The French EDF has warned that the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant under construction in south-west England could rise by an additional £ 3 billion, while also warning of further delays due to supply chain problems stemming from the Covid-19 blockade.
In a statement issued late Thursday night, the French state-owned company estimated that the 3.2-gigawatt power plant in Somerset could cost a total of £ 25 billion to £ 26 billion compared to it is estimated at £ 18 billion when he got the green light in 2016.
The first of two next-generation European Pressure Reactors (EPRs) to be installed at Hinkley Point C is now expected to start producing electricity in June 2027 – a year later than previously planned – but EDF added that “the risk from a further delay of two units is estimated at 15 months ”.
When he asked for support for the 2007 project, EDF initially said that the British would cook their Christmas turkeys on electricity from Hinkley Point C 2017.
EDF has been forced to review project costs on numerous occasions. On latest revision in January 2021 he estimated the total at £ 23 billion. EDF lists costs in 2015 prices to maintain consistency for markets, but the actual bill will be even higher after taking inflation into account.
EDF stressed that the additional costs will not affect consumers in the UK. The construction costs are covered by EDF and its younger partner in the project, China’s CGN, in exchange for a 35-year contract that guarantees a price of 92.50 pounds per megawatt hour of electricity produced, which is rising with inflation.
The latest failure comes at a time when the UK government hoping to restart the country’s nuclear energy program as part of efforts to reduce its reliance on energy imports, including from Russia.
It is likely to provide additional ammunition to environmental activists and nuclear skeptics, who argue that technology is expensive, takes too long to build and that the UK has yet to figure out how to deal with the nuclear industry’s legacy. highly toxic waste long term.
As part of the Energy Security of Supply Strategy announced in April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set up a construction goal 24GW of new nuclear power by 2050. This is the equivalent of eight large nuclear power plants, although ministers hope to encourage small modular reactors of this type evolving by a Rolls-Royce-led consortium.
In a message sent to Hinkley Point C workers on Thursday, project chief executive Stuart Crooks blamed the blockades during the pandemic, during which he had to reduce the number of staff who could safely work on the site from about 5,000 to 1,500.
“In construction alone, fewer people than planned means we lost more than half a million individual days of critical work in 2020 and 2021,” he wrote.
“Our supply chain has also been hit hard and is still affected. In April 2020, 180 suppliers were completely closed, but even at the end of February this year, more than 60 suppliers were working with reduced productivity due to Covid. ”
However, further delays will not surprise critics of the company.
In France, EDF’s flagship plant Flamanville 3, which will also use EPR technology, is more than a decade late, and costs have also risen, at one point reprimanding the French government as it ordered the group to resolve problems with project management and industrial skills.
At the same time suffering from problems with new projects, EDF is facing disruptions in several existing reactors in France due to welding problems, leading to its lowest level in decades.
This came at a time when Europe’s electricity supply has been shaken by attempts to do so. wean the region from Russian gas since the invasion of Ukraine and has further deepened the financial turmoil at EDF, raising concerns about its ability to prepare for the construction of new reactors.
EDF has lobbied the UK government as it hopes to build another factory in England using EPR technology, at Sizewell C in Suffolk. A planned decision on the plant is expected in July.