Delay, cost increase announced for U.K. nuclear project

January 27, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Perspex screens and reduced seating capacity in the Hinkley Point canteens help protect the workforce during breaks, EDF Energy said. Photo: EDF Energy

The unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nuclear new-build projects haven’t stopped with Vogtle: EDF Energy this morning reported that the expected startup date for Unit 1 at its Hinkley Point C site is being pushed from late 2025 to June 2026.

In addition, the project’s completion costs are now estimated to be in the range of £22 billion to £23 billion (about $30.2 billion to $31.5 billion), some £500 million (about $686 million) more than the 2019 estimate, EDF said, adding the caveat that these revisions assume an ability to begin a return to normal site conditions by the second quarter of 2021.

Stiff upper lip: “We’ve been able to keep working through COVID because our teams have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the site and our community safe, with many measures put in place to prevent infection and to enable social distancing,” said Stuart Crooks, the project’s managing director, in a video posted on the company’s website. “So in these very challenging circumstances, it’s a considerable achievement that we hit 18 of our 20 milestones last year, with the last two not far behind. That has been done with fewer people on site and with considerable disruption among our suppliers.”

Background: French utility Électricité de France announced in September 2008 that it had agreed to a takeover of British Energy (which became EDF Energy), operator of Hinkley Point B, a nuclear power station in Somerset with two gas-cooled reactors, and that it was planning to build an adjacent power station, Hinkley Point C, which would house two 1,630-MWe EPRs. The U.K. government approved the project in September 2016, following a favorable vote by the Électricité de France board. If completed, they will be the first new nuclear units in the United Kingdom since Sizewell B began commercial operation in 1995.

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