New delay and skyrocketing cost of EDF EDF reactors in England – 20.05.2022 at 15:15


Construction site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on April 7, 2022 in Bridgwater, UK. (POOL/Finnbarr Webster)

Additional delays and costs: EDF’s EDF nuclear power plant site at Hinckley Point in England is seeing a new backlog, which the British government, however, minimized on Friday.

The launch of the first reactor is now scheduled “in June 2027,” the French energy company said in a press release on Thursday evening.

The plant, which has been under construction since 2016 in Somerset (southwest England), was originally scheduled to start at the end of 2025, but this schedule was already pushed back to June 2026 last year.

For the two blocks, the risk of a delay is now “estimated at 15 months” assuming there is no new pandemic or additional war effect in Ukraine, according to EDF, which quantifies the project’s new additional cost of at least £3bn (roughly £3.5bn). Euro).

The plant should indeed cost “between £25bn and £26bn” against the £18bn expected in 2016 during the green light from London, and the amount is already overestimated between £22bn and £23bn.

The British government reacted by saying it wanted to continue to “work closely with the EDF to complete Hinckley’s C” and stressed that the additional costs would not be passed on to taxpayers.

Control Center Training Room at Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant, Bridgewater, April 7, 2022. (POOL/Finnbarr Webster)

Control Center Training Room at Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant, Bridgewater, April 7, 2022. (POOL/Finnbarr Webster)

EDF attributes the delay to the pandemic: “People, resources and the supply chain have been put to the test and their effectiveness has been limited. In addition, the volume of research and work in the field of civil engineering, as well as the cost of these works, and especially marine works, has increased.”

The project was controversial from the start, with French trade unions contesting its cost.

“If the (British) government invested as much in offshore wind power as in Hinkley C, we would have three times as much power in a short time,” Greenpeace, an environmental NGO, criticized on Friday.

– Accumulated failures –

EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) is a nuclear reactor model that is more powerful and safer than previous generations. Three have been completed in Finland and China, three are under construction, one in France and two at Hinckley Point.

World map showing various EPRs in operation or under construction (AFP / )

World map showing various EPRs in operation or under construction (AFP / )

But the Finnish reactor (Olkiluoto-3) was launched in March with a delay of 12 years, and of the two Chinese EPRs commissioned in 2018 and 2019, one has been shut down since July 2021 for technical reasons.

For the French reactor at Flamanville, cumulative delays reach 11 years for fuel loading scheduled for Q2 2023, and the cost rises to €12.7 billion, four times what was announced in 2006.

EDF has accumulated a lot of bad news since the beginning of the year. The group had to recapitalize in April and its profits will fall this year in large part because the French state has asked it to sell more electricity at low prices, a file in which the CEO openly opposes the government.

The group must also address the problem of pipe corrosion that forced it to shut down 12 of 56 French reactors. In total, more than half of the reactors in France are now shut down for maintenance.

Hinkley Point C is the only nuclear power plant under construction in the UK. EDF is the customer and its Chinese partner CGN owns a third of the project.

It adjoins the Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant, commissioned in 1976 and which EDF planned to close by July 2022, even if London plans to expand it, according to The Guardian daily, so as not to cut power production during the climate emergency. and wars in Ukraine.

Across the Channel, the goal is to keep nuclear’s share of the energy mix at 20% to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, although the UK currently has 15 reactors at 8 sites. London wants to produce 95% of electricity with low carbon emissions by 2030.

The construction site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on April 21, 2022 in Bridgwater, UK. (AFP/Justin TALLIS)

The construction site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on April 21, 2022 in Bridgwater, UK. (AFP/Justin TALLIS)

In France, EPR technology remains at the center of the energy strategy. President Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to restart the nuclear program with six next-generation EPR2 reactors, highlighting the climate benefits of this energy.

The first commissioning is expected no earlier than 2035 or 2037. But the financial stakes are immediate and significant: the estimated cost of the six reactors is more than 50 billion euros.

.