Hinkley Point C est la seule centrale nucléaire en cours de construction au Royaume-Uni.

Nuclear power: New setback for EDF’s EPR reactors in England

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French concern EDF has announced a new delay and additional costs at the construction site of two nuclear reactors in England.

Hinkley Point C is the only nuclear power station to be built in the UK.

AFP

French energy group EDF announced Thursday that the construction site for two new generation nuclear reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point, England, could face another year’s delay and an additional cost of at least £3 billion (3.6 billion Swiss francs).

“The start of electricity production from Unit 1 is now scheduled for June 2027. The risk of postponing the delivery of the two blocks is estimated at 15 months, assuming that there is no new pandemic and additional effects of the war in Ukraine. ‘ the group said in a statement.

Already postponed

Commissioning was originally planned for the end of 2025 and was postponed to June 2026 last year. The factory is located in Somerset (South West England). EDF now estimates the cost of the project at “between £25 and £26 billion” (around 31 billion Swiss francs) in 2015, up from 18 billion (21.6 billion Swiss francs) in 2016 when the UK government gave the green light and launch gave the construction.

The delay is attributed to the two-year pandemic: “People, resources and the supply chain have been stretched and their effectiveness has been limited. In addition, the volume of studies and civil works has increased, as well as the cost of these works, and in particular the maritime works,” explains the group.

The next milestone will be the installation of the dome on Block 1 of the plant in the second quarter of 2023, compared to the previous end of 2022. The project, initially controversial and contested by French unions over its cost, was already estimated at £22-23 billion (about £27 billion). francs) has been revalued. It could not escape the setbacks of other EPRs.

Chinese partner

The EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) is a nuclear reactor model that is more powerful and safer than previous generations. Three have been completed, in Finland and China, and three are under construction, one in France and two at Hinkley Point. But the Finnish reactor (Olkiluoto-3) started up in March, 12 years late.

Of the two Chinese EPRs commissioned in 2018 and 2019, one has been shut down since July 2021 due to technical problems. As for the French reactor at Flamanville, the cumulative delays reach 11 years for the fuel loading now scheduled for Q2 2023 and the cost has increased to 12.7 billion euros according to the EDF estimate of January 12, 2022 2006 , this very powerful 1,650 MW reactor was announced at 3.3 billion euros.

EDF has been collecting bad news since the beginning of the year. The group had to be recapitalized in April, and much of its profit will fall this year because the French state has asked it to sell more electricity at low prices — a move that has seen the CEO publicly oppose the government.

In addition to the delays of the French and English EPRs, the group must also solve a problem of corrosion of pipes, which forced them to stop 12 of their 56 French reactors. Overall, more than half of the reactors in France are now shut down for maintenance work.

Relaunch of the French program

Hinkley Point C is the only nuclear power station to be built in the UK. EDF is the owner of the project, while its Chinese partner CGN owns a third of the project. It is adjacent to the Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant, commissioned in 1976, which EDF plans to shut down by July 2022.

Across the Channel, the target is to keep nuclear at 20% of the energy mix to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – while the UK currently has 15 reactors in 8 sites. London aims to produce 95% low-carbon electricity by 2030.

In France, EPR technology remains at the heart of the energy strategy. President Emmanuel Macron has announced his intention to restart a nuclear program with six new-generation EPR2 reactors, notably praising the climate benefit of the electricity produced in this way.

This long-term project will not be completed during the five-year term. First commissioning is not expected before 2035 or 2037. But the financial interests are immediate and substantial, with an estimated cost of more than €50 billion for six reactors.

(AFP)


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