Senior engineers at French utility EDF have called for at least a two year delay at the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK and recommended a redesign of the reactor technology. An internal white paper written by dissenting EDF engineers, which has been seen by the Financial Times, argues that Hinkley Point is so complex and untested that the company should announce a later completion date than the target of 2025. The paper, circulated among top executives, said that the “realistic service date was 2027” due to the size of the project, continuing design modifications to the European Pressurised Reactor system and the “very low” competency of French supplier Areva in making some of the large components. The white paper also made the case for a “new EPR”, calling on the company to redesign the current reactor technology to make it smaller, cheaper to build and less complicated. Three people close to the company said that CGN, EDF’s Chinese partner for Hinkley, also feared possible delays, attempting to insert a clause so it would take on a lower financial risk if there were a large problem. But the majority of the 18-strong board is likely to vote in favour of the deal in May, according to people close to the group. The company is 85 per cent state owned, and the government wants the project to go ahead.
FT 29th March 2016 read more »
The opening of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station should be pushed back at least two years and its reactor technology redesigned, according to a letter from senior engineers on the project. The French company EDF, which plans to build the power plant in Somerset to generate 6 per cent of Britain’s energy, was struck a fresh blow in a letter from engineers warning that its technology was over-complex and its planned completion date unrealistic. A white paper circulated internally at the company said that the plans for the site were so complicated and untested that the company should expect completion of construction at least two years later than the target of 2025, according to the Financial Times. The group of dissenting engineers reportedly blamed the proposed delay on the “very low” competency of the French supplier Areva in manufacturing some of the l arger components, the large scale of the project, and the continuing design modifications to the reactors. They concluded that a “realistic service date was 2027”. Maintaining the original timetable is particularly important because the planned completion date is designed to coincide with the closure of the last coal-fired power stations in the UK. The internal document also argued that the company should redesign the EPR to make it smaller, cheaper to build and more simple. According to the newspaper, three people close to EDF said that CGN, the company’s Chinese partner for the power station, was also concerned about possible delays. The sources added that the Chinese firm was attempting to insert a clause ensuring that it would take on a reduced financial risk in the event of a large problem.
Times 30th March 2016 read more »
According to existing plans, 2025 is set to be a pivotal moment in the history of British energy. By the end of that year, the UK’s last coal-fired power station is meant to have closed while the country’s first new nuclear plant in 30 years should have opened. This would be the biggest step yet in the country’s planned transition away from fossil fuels and towards zero-carbon energy. The problem for ministers is that over the past few months, the closure of old coal power plants has accelerated while the likelihood of Hinkley Point nuclear power station opening by 2025 appears to be receding. The internal report from a group of EDF engineers who are pushing for a 2027 start date is the latest sign of that. scenarios drawn up National Grid, the company whose job it is to keep daily supplies running, show that without new nuclear power by the mid-2020s, carbon emissions will be higher and baseload electricity prices more volatile. In its “Future Energy Scenarios” document drawn up last yea r, it argues that new nuclear by the mid-2020s is a “cornerstone” of its predictions for a green energy future. If it becomes clear in the next few years that Hinkley Point is not likely to open until after 2025, ministers will be able to plug the gaps by giving subsidies to companies to provide back-up power. Under the “capacity market” system, the government awards billions of pounds’ worth of top-up payments to encourage companies to build reserve power.
FT 29th March 2016 read more »
The prospect of dozens, possibly hundreds of jobs across Sedgemoor and North Somerset at the planned £18billion Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could be delayed for at least two more years, according to an expert on the project. Steve Thomas, a professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, told the Mercury around £13billion of the plant’s financing is yet to be agreed, and could remain that way until 2018. He said: “The loan guarantees which make up about 70 per cent of the money for the project were originally dependent on another nuclear plant in France, called Flamanville, going ahead by the end of 2020. “But the reactor vessels for that plant are currently being scrutinised because they have anomalies in them – and the report on that won’t be finished this year, and may not be finished next year either. “That 2020 clause has since been quietly deleted, but we don’t know why or what has replaced it.”
Weston Mercury 30th March 2016 read more »
Energy & Climate Change Committee Hinkley investigation.
House of Commons 23rd March 2016 read more »