French utility EDF’s project to build a new nuclear reactor in Flamanville will be delayed by at least three years due to problems with the weldings, EDF said on Friday.
Reuters 26th July 2019 read more »
The company building Britain’s new nuclear reactors has announced a further delay to its troubled high-profile project in France. EDF, the French state-owned group, said that the launch of its nuclear reactor at Flamanville in Normandy had been put back three years until the end of 2022. The group is leading the project to build two similar reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £19.68 billion. The latest delay at Flamanville comes after the French Nuclear Safety Authority ordered EDF to repair eight faulty welds at the plant. The French government plans to split EDF into two units under a state-owned parent company. EDF Bleu will hold the nuclear assets and be wholly owned by the state and EDF Vert will concentrate on renewable energy and services, with a minority stake in private hands. The defective welds responsible for the latest setback at Flamanville were detected last year. EDF said that it would repair most of them but argued that those in the building enclosing the reactor could be left for now. Those are difficult to access and to repair. EDF said that it was “highly improbable” that they would break and urged nuclear inspectors to allow the construction programme to go ahead without repairing them but the watchdog insisted that they should be fixed before the reactor was started up. EDF said it would agree with the watchdog how to repair the welds. The group’s detractors say the repeated setbacks at Flamanville show it has lost the skills necessary to build a nuclear reactor, and predict a similar scenario of delays and cost overruns at Hinkley Point. Sources at EDF say such misgivings are unfounded and that the group will learn from the mistakes at Flamanville. The reactors at Hinkley Point are due to produce 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity.
Times 27th July 2019 read more »
As French existential jokes go, little beats building a nuclear power plant at a place called Flammable. OK, it’s actually Flamanville. But who cares about that sort of nicety – not least when the project’s proving so incendiary? It was due to be up and running in 2012 at a cost of €3.3 billion. Not only that. Flaming Ville was to be the showcase for the European Pressurised Reactor, the wizzy new tech developed by the state-backed EDF. True, it’s living up to the pressurised bit, at least for EDF boss Jean-Bernard Lévy. He’s just been forced to announce another delay: a howitzer, even by usual standards, of “more than three years”. The end of 2022 is now the earliest start date; a delay bound to jack up project costs that have already exploded to €10.9 billion The reason? France’s spoilsport nuclear safety authority has ordered EDF to repair eight bits of dodgy welding: who’d have thought nukes had to be welded together properly? And, yes, the whole thing is turning into a nice French farce. Except for one thing, of course: the joke’s on us. Flamanville is the prototype for our very own nuclear disaster: the £20 billion Hinkley Point C. It’s being built by EDF and the Chinese in return for the contractual right to fleece UK consumers for 35 years: an index-linked, guaranteed £92.50 per megawatt hour that’s twice the wholesale price. Even better, the 3,200MW Hinkley is the planned forerunner for a fleet of new nukes. Indeed, so thrilling is the prospect that Greg Clark spent his dying days as business secretary agonising over whether it might actually be better to fleece consumers upfront instead, via his “regulated asset base” funding model, before the plant was built. His verdict? A “consultation”, the sort of non-decision-making for which he was deservedly sacked. Surely someone in government can see the big picture here. It’s not just Flamanville that’s proving new nuclear so radioactive; a heady mix of last-century tech, uncontrollable costs, endless delays and a dirty great clean-up bill. EDF’s sister project, at Olkiluoto in Finland, has proved a similar disaster. And didn’t ministers notice while their mooted plant at Moorside was imploding that the project’s promoter, Japan’s Toshiba, was blowing itself in the US with subsidiary Westinghouse? No bribe was big enough, either, for Hitachi at Wylfa: no big shock when the group’s from Fukushima-land. True, nuclear accounts for a fifth of Britain’s energy needs. But its costs keep going up, while those of wind, solar, battery power and carbon capture are falling. And they don’t require dangerous clean-ups. Yes, maybe it’s too late to stop Hinkley. But someone in Boris’s new team must see that new nuclear’s a route to torching money. Flammable is all the evidence they need.
Times 27th July 2019 read more »