A group of more than 100 engineers at French utility EDF have come out in support of the company’s contentious plans to build a flagship nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in the UK, after some of their counterparts said the project should be delayed. An internal note to company employees by the EDF engineers, which was issued this week, said: “We are convinced that EDF is able to build and deliver the two Hinkley Point reactors on time. Hinkley Point is politically, economically and industrially, one of the most significant projects of our era.” The Financial Times reported last week that some senior engineers at EDF had written a policy paper calling for at least a two-year delay to the £18bn project, which involves two reactors and is meant to be operational by 2025. The paper said that the “realistic service date was 2027” due to the size of the project, continuing design modifications and the “very low” competency of French supplier Areva in making some of the large components. The contrasting visions from the two groups of EDF engineers point to a wider battle going on inside the company over whether to make the much-delayed final investment decision on Hinkley at a board meeting on May 11.
FT 8th April 2016 read more »
Six years ago a French government inquiry issued a warning that makes for chilling and highly relevant reading even today. The report said that the complexity of the kind of nuclear reactor destined for Hinkley Point was itself a “handicap” to its construction and its cost. So it should come as no surprise that wherever the new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is being installed – in Finland, France and China – the projects are beset by delays and massive increases in price. The EPR is what’s called a Third Generation reactor and it’s designed to be safer, more powerful and more efficient than earlier versions. Ironically, it’s also meant to be easier to build. But so far the reality has been the opposite. As the EDF Board prepares to make its final investment decision, there is not yet a single example that anyone can point to of the reactor actually working. And its development has become something of a saga which not only involves huge questions about finance and politics but also about technology. They found that the dome capping the vessel installed at Flamanville in Normandy contained impurities – amid the steel there was a small zone with too much carbon. This could potentially undermine the vessel’s strength. The intense radiation generated within the reactor bombards the pressure vessel and, over the decades, makes the metal as brittle as glass. Many of the engineers who lived through the challenges of the other EPR projects will be on hand at Hinkley. ‘Veterans’, as Simon Jack, calls them. That could mean they have plenty of useful experience. Or they really know just how uncertain a task they face.
BBC 7th April 2016 read more »
The story of Hinkley Point C is a fraught one. It was first mooted in 2008, we are on our third government and fourth secretary of state for energy since then, and the final decision is still yet to be made. That will fall to the French government, as the 85% shareholder of EDF – the project’s owner. Ministers from both UK and French governments along with the senior management have all joined in a deafening chorus of confidence that it will go ahead, which doesn’t seem to succeed in instilling much confidence.
BBC 7th April 2016 read more »
France’s energy minister Ségolène Royal has backed union demands for the EDF’s Hinkley C project in Somerset to be re-examined, write Angelique Chrisafis & Chris Johnston – adding that the project must not go ahead if it would ‘dry out’ funds needed for EDF’s renewable energy program.
Ecologist 8th April 2016 read more »
The French energy minister Segolene Royal has become the latest and most important person in France to hint that the new Hinkley C nuclear power plant project might be in doubt, as pressure intensifies on EDF to give the go-ahead. Ms Royal’s refusal in an interview on French radio to commit to Hinkley C has increased speculation that the French Government might well order energy firm EDF to stop or at least postpone the project.
Western Daily Press 8th April 2016 read more »
Utility Week 8th April 2016 read more »
The Week 8th April 2016 read more »