Nuclear: EDF accumulates delays for the British EPR, an additional cost that French consumers will pay


Roch Arena

January 25, 2024 at 2:28 p.m.

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A French nuclear power plant © aerophoto / Shutterstock

A French nuclear power plant

The massive delays and additional costs of the Hinkley Point EPR project raise concerns about EDF’s ability to meet the challenges of relaunching nuclear power in France, without blowing up the final bill for the consumer.

The situation is not improving on the Hinkley Point EPR construction site in England. In 2016, EDF Energy began building four new reactors there which will ultimately cover the electricity consumption of 6 million homes. While the project has reached a series of important milestones in recent months, including the installation of the dome on the Unit 1 reactor building, the French electricity giant recently announced further delays and substantial additional costs.

Initially scheduled for 2025, delivery of the first unit was postponed to 2027, and the latest indications suggest that the commissioning of the first reactor should not take place before 2029, in the best possible scenario. Current forecasts suggest a start of production in 2030, or even in 2031, thus accumulating a delay of seven years compared to the initial schedule.

The bill soars again for the EPR

Any large industrial project is likely to face financial challenges, and the EPR, due to its complexity, is no exception to this rule. The situation is all the more delicate as it represents a bridgehead, that is to say a stage prior to the establishment of an industrial series. The consequences of these complications result in an astronomical cost, estimated at £46 billion by the Financial Timesor around 53 billion euros.

For comparison, this sum is equivalent to the budget allocated by EDF for the construction of six reactors in France by 2050. This estimate obviously raises concerns about the true cost of a new generation nuclear fleet. For its part, EDF adopts a more cautious position than the Financial Times by announcing a range between 31 billion and 34 billion pounds (2015), depending on the scenario. In any case, the additional cost remains massive and could thus exceed 9 billion euros.

Additional costs financed by the electricity bill?

Now that EDF has regained its status as a fully public company, the crucial question arises of financial responsibility for these budget overruns. How to assume the costs, while tackling the operator’s colossal debt, estimated at 65 billion euros. A situation that is all the more complex as investments are also necessary to relaunch the production of power plants in France.

One option for EDF would be to attract new partners to share costs, but the company admits that this process “will take time“. The most likely prospect seems to be an increase in electricity bills in the months and years to come. In any case, these choices will have consequences not only for EDF, but also for consumers.

Source : The world



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