France’s EDF has warned that the costs of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant under construction in the south-west of England could balloon by an additional £3bn, while it also warned of further delays because of supply chain problems arising from Covid-19 lockdowns. In a statement released late on Thursday evening, the French state-backed utility estimated that the 3.2 gigawatt plant in Somerset could cost a total of £25bn-£26bn compared to an estimate of £18bn when it received the go-ahead in 2016. It is now anticipated that the first of the two next-generation European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) being installed at Hinkley Point C will start generating electricity in June 2027 — a year later than previously scheduled — but EDF added that the “risk of further delay of the two units is assessed at 15 months”. EDF has been forced to revise up the costs of the project on numerous occasions. At the most recent revision in January 2021, it had estimated the total at £23bn. EDF quotes costs in 2015 prices in order to maintain consistency for the markets but the real bill will be even higher after accounting for inflation. EDF stressed that the additional costs would not affect UK consumers. The construction costs are being met by EDF and its junior partner in the project, China’s CGN, in return for a 35-year contract that guarantees a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity produced, rising with inflation. In a note sent to Hinkley Point C workers on Thursday, the project’s managing director Stuart Crooks blamed lockdowns during the pandemic, during which it had to reduce the number of staff who could safely operate on site from about 5,000 to 1,500. “In civil construction alone, having fewer people than planned means we lost in excess of half a million individual days of critical work in 2020 and 2021,” he wrote. “Our supply chain was also hit hard and is still impacted now. In April 2020, 180 suppliers were fully shut down, but even as late as February this year, more than 60 suppliers were operating with reduced productivity due to Covid.” However, the further delays will not surprise critics of the company. In France, EDF’s flagship Flamanville 3 plant, which will also use EPR technology, is running more than a decade behind schedule and costs have also spiralled, sparking at one point a rebuke by the French government as it ordered the group to address issues with project management and industrial skills. At the same time as suffering problems with new projects, EDF faces outages at several existing reactors in France because of welding problems, sending nuclear output to its lowest level in decades.
FT 20th May 2022 read more »
The new nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset will start operating a year later than planned and will cost an extra £3bn, it has been announced. The French energy company EDF published the findings of a review into the cost and schedule of the power station taking account of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The delay means the first reactor unit is now scheduled to start operating in June 2027, a year later than planned, with costs estimated between £25bn and £26bn. EDF said this would not affect the cost to British consumers or taxpayers. Stuart Crooks, the managing director of Hinkley Point C said that in January 2021, EDF estimated a six-month Covid impact, assuming an imminent return to normal conditions, but the second wave of Covid-19 stopped that happening.
Guardian 20th May 2022 read more »
French utility EDF said on Thursday it was pushing back the start date on its Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor to June 2027 and now estimated project costs in the range of 25 billion to 26 billion pounds ($31 to $32 billion).
Reuters 19th May 2022 read more »
The French energy company behind Hinkley Point C has warned the nuclear plant will suffer another one-year delay and come in up to £8bn over budget. EDF, which will cover the extra costs, said that the price of materials had shot up as a result of the pandemic, a global supply chain crunch and the war in Ukraine. The company said the two reactors will cost between £25bn and £26bn, up from a previous range of £22bn to £23bn. It is the fourth budget increase from an initial estimate of £18bn when the contract was signed in 2016. It was originally scheduled to be ready in 2025, before being delayed to 2026. On Thursday night the plant’s launch was kicked back to 2027. It comes as MPs warned that the Government should “urgently” consider whether to keep open Britain’s ageing nuclear power plants in an attempt to tackle the energy crisis. Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, deputy chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said there was “huge uncertainty” over commissioning replacement energy projects, while “we are seeing clearly” the risks of relying on imported energy, as Russia’s war on Ukraine disrupts global energy markets. EDF has a 66.5pc stake in Hinkley Point C and China General Nuclear Power owns the rest. The cost overruns may force the debt-laden French utility to take on a larger part of the project. The reassessment comes as EDF is in talks with the UK government to arrange financing for a second UK nuclear plant that would use the same design. Delays and cost overruns may put off investors at a crucial point in negotiations for the proposed Sizewell project. Reactors compete for investor capital with renewables, which provide much quicker returns.
Telegraph 20th May 2022 read more »
ITV 20th May 2022 read more »
Belfast Live 20th May 2022 read more »
Evening Standard 19th May 2022 read more »
Ageing nuclear reactors must be ‘double-checked’ for safety before being kept going to ease energy crisis. Closure of seven nuclear reactors by 2028 will ‘significantly reduce’ UK energy generation, the Public Accounts Committee warns, and taxpayers face billions of pounds in extra costs.
iNews 20th May 2022 read more »
AT THE END OF NOVEMBER last year, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) agreed that building work at the Hinkley Point C site could move to the next phase. It is a major step up for the companies involved and for the site itself. So far, most of the activity at Hinkley Point C’s first unit has been around civil construction, but the new phase will mean the workforce will rise to 4000 as a new alliance moves in to install mechanical and electrical components. Starting the new phase of work of bulk mechanical, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (MEH) installation does not require a new licence from the regulator but it is referred to as a ‘hold point’ for the construction process. As such, the site operator, NNB Generation Company (HPC) Limited (NNB GenCo) has to present evidence to the regulator that it is ready to move forward. In its assessment, the regulator said the MEH fit-out was a “major change to the project, and is a mammoth undertaking that will involve simultaneous working on a number of different platforms, employing a large number of skilled and semi-skilled workers, including welders, pipe fitters and electricians.” It noted there had been problems with this phase of construction at Flamanville in France (although those issues had not arisen at a similar project at Taishan in China). The regulator had, however, ‘closed off’ previous concerns over the company’s oversight of off-site component manufacturing.
Nuclear Engineering International 18th May 2022 read more »