UK’s Hinkley Point: Delay Sparks 7 Billion Euro Cost Surge

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Two years late. Or even four. EDF announced this Tuesday evening, January 23, that the commissioning of the first EPR nuclear reactor at the Hinkley Point C power station, in the southwest of England, would be seriously delayed. The project is thus postponed for several years for delivery now expected at best in 2029, or even 2030… or 2031. The French electrician indicates that it has reviewed the expected duration of the electromechanical assembly work (cables and pipes) at the time when this phase just getting started. Scheduled to last twenty-eight months, this stage will ultimately take fifty-two, thus adding two years to the total duration of the project, at best.

Depending on the different scenarios, the reactor could start either in 2029 or in 2030 – for the most favorable. But “given the complexity of the project”, EDF also planned “an unfavorable scenario” which “could lead to the start of electricity production from Unit 1 in 2031, i.e. twelve additional months compared to the case of base (commissioning 2030),” according to a press release.

Lack of specialized labor

This new postponement of the schedule is linked to the reassessment of the duration of the electromechanical assembly work, “compared to the duration […] estimated at the time of the Hinkley Point investment decision in 2016”, a duration which had not “never been seen again” since for this phase, EDF explained to journalists.

Asked about the question of the lack of specialized labor at a time when European countries want to relaunch nuclear power, EDF indicates that it has “made the hypothesis of being able to find the qualifications that we will need”. “But if we can’t find enough people quickly enough, it could cause a few additional small delays,” admitted the company.

Taking into account these new deadlines, the cost of the project is now “estimated in a range between 31 and 34 billion pounds in 2015 value,” announced the energy company. This represents an additional cost of 6 to 8 billion pounds (7 to 9.3 billion euros) compared to the last revision which dates back to 2022. EDF then reassessed the project at 25-26 billion in 2015 pounds, compared to 18 billion estimated at the start of the project in 2016.

Costs which are likely to rise further due to inflation. And EDF should have to bear them alone, due to lack of participation by its Chinese partner and shareholder CGN in the additional costs. Largely supported by the French national group, the Hinkley Point C site is not in its first schedule slippages. First planned for the end of 2025, the start-up of the first reactor had already been postponed until June 2027. Started in 2017, the construction of the two 3.2 gigawatt (GW) reactors, capable of supplying six million homes, is now mobilizing Today 11,000 people, according to EDF.
​This article is originally published on liberation.fr

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