Extra cost of € 5 billion and delays for UK-built EPR

The construction of Hinkley Point C in England is expected to cost 25 billion euros, and could be up to fifteen months late.

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Vincent de Rivaz, EDF boss in the United Kingdom at the time, took the project Hinkley Point. Here, December 3, 2015 in London.
Vincent de Rivaz, EDF boss in the United Kingdom at the time, took the project Hinkley Point. Here, December 3, 2015 in London. BEN STANSALL / AFP

In December 2012, the boss of EDF in the United Kingdom, Vincent de Rivaz, who was fighting to complete the financing of the Hinkley Point C power plant, entrusted the World: "The future of the EPR is at stake in this project. " Seven years later, these words resonate more alarmingly than ever for the future of the French nuclear industry. On Wednesday, September 25, EDF announced a risk of delay and an additional cost that will exceed 10% for its Hinkley Point C project.

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According to the French electrician, the new generation nuclear power plant, whose construction of two units in the west of England began in late 2016, should ultimately cost "21.5 to 22.5 billion pounds" (EUR 24.3 to 25.5 billion), 1.9 to 2.9 billion pounds more than the previous estimate. The latter had already been revised upwards by 1.5 billion pounds in September 2016. Or an official overcost that could touch the 5 billion euros since the start of the project, and about twice the price initially mentioned there is a decade.

As for the start date of the two units being built at Hinkley Point C, it will likely be postponed. The first, scheduled for 2025, faces a risk " increases " fifteen months late. The second, scheduled for 2026, presents a risk of nine additional months.

Huge earthworks, poorly evaluated

Contacted by The world, EDF estimates that the causes of this new additional cost are of three types. First, the huge earthworks, visibly poorly evaluated, cost more than expected. Then, the British regulator asked for adaptations of the design of the EPR. This is particularly the case of the control command of the plant, which allows operators to operate the reactors, and which had to be partly revised to meet the requirements of the Safety Authority. Lastly, EDF planned to reduce costs, but the plan designed for this purpose did not generate the expected margins.

These new pitfalls will certainly have an impact on the profitability of the project in the long term, since it will be even longer to amortize for EDF. A financial slippage that may weigh heavily on the finances of a group already in difficulty. EDF is burdened by a debt of more than 33 billion euros while it must invest between 50 and 75 billion euros in the coming years to hope to extend the life of French nuclear reactors.


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