AFP, posted on Friday, May 20, 2022 at 5:24 pm.
Delays and additional costs: EDF’s EDF-built nuclear power plant site at Hinckley Point in England is experiencing new slippage, the impact of which the British government, however, minimized for the United Kingdom on Friday.
The launch of the first reactor is now scheduled “in June 2027,” the French energy company said Thursday night.
The plant, which has been under construction since 2016 in Somerset (southwest England), was originally scheduled to start at the end of 2025, but last year this schedule was already pushed back to June 2026.
For the two blocs, the risk of a delay is now “estimated at 15 months” assuming there is no new pandemic or additional effects of the war in Ukraine, according to EDF, which estimates new incremental costs of at least £3bn (around €3.5bn) .
The plant is expected to cost “between £25bn and £26bn” against £18bn expected in 2016 when London gave the green light.
The British government said on Friday that it wants to continue to “work closely with the EDF to finalize Hinkley’s Point C”, stressing that the extra costs will not be borne by the British.
EDF attributed the delay to the pandemic, which hampered work opportunities, as well as additional research and construction work.
The controversial project has been contested by French trade unions from the start due to its cost.
“If the (British) government invested as much in offshore wind power as it did in Hinkley C, we would have three times as much power in a short amount of time,” environmental NGO Greenpeace criticized on Friday, saying there was a delay in this new energy source. . electricity will eventually fall indirectly on the British taxpayer.
– Accumulated failures –
EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) is a nuclear reactor model that is more powerful and safer than previous generation models. Three have been completed in Finland and China, three are under construction, one in France and two at Hinckley Point.
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.
As for the French reactor at Flamanville, the cumulative delays are as high as 11 years for fuel loading scheduled for Q2 2023 at a cost of €12.7 billion, four times more than announced in 2006.
EDF has bad news piling up this year. The group had to recapitalize in April and its profits will fall in large part because the French state has asked it to sell more electricity at low prices.
The group also needs to address the issue of pipe corrosion. 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 power plant, commissioned in 1976 and which EDF planned to close by July – even if London plans to extend it, according to The Guardian, so as not to cut low-carbon energy production before the climate emergency and war in Ukraine.
A report from the British Parliament on Friday also condemned the planned closure by 2028 of seven nuclear power plants that were sold in 2009 to EDF, which is estimated to result in “a significant reduction in the United Kingdom’s energy production”.
According to the report, the contract to sell the EDF power plants poses a “disproportionate risk” to the British taxpayer regarding the future dismantling of these power plants, which should cost billions more in public funds, after already 10.7 billion books in two years.
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.
In France, EPR remains at the center of the energy and climate strategy. President Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to restart the nuclear program with six next-generation EPR2 reactors.
First commissioning is expected no earlier than 2035 or 2037, with the huge cost of six reactors estimated at more than 50 billion euros.