THE COST the UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has risen again, this time by £3bn (US$3.7bn), and startup will be delayed by a further 15 months. EDF has blamed Covid for the changes.
When EDF agreed to build the plant in the southwest of England in 2016 the cost was £18bn and it was scheduled to begin generating electricity in 2025. In January 2021, it said the cost had risen to £23bn. It now expects the plant will cost up to £26bn and will begin operating in June 2027.
EDF released a statement saying: “During more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project continued without stopping. This protected the integrity of the supply chain and allowed the completion of major milestones. However, people, resources and supply chain have been severely constrained and their efficiency has been restricted. In addition, the quantities of materials and engineering as well as the cost of such activities, including, in particular marine works have risen.”
Stuart Crooks, Managing Director of Hinkley Point C told the BBC that safety measures had resulted in the loss of more than half a million days of work in 2020 and 2021. He said that staff numbers on site were suddenly reduced from more than 5,000 to around 1,500 and the supply chain was impacted too.
"In April 2020, 180 suppliers were fully shut down, but even as late as February this year, more than 60 suppliers were operating with reduced productivity due to Covid," he said.
Hinkley Point C will be the UK’s first new plant built in the UK in more than two decades. There are seven nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 7 GW operating in the UK right now – all operated by EDF – but most are set to be shut down by the end of the decade. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has said it will bolster UK energy security by building up to eight new reactors providing 24 GW by 2050.
EDF said that the rise in costs will not increase energy prices for consumers. EDF agreed with the Government a price of £92.50/MWh, and will bear the increase in project costs along with its partner CGN.
The project consists of two pressurised water reactors with a combined output of 3,260 MW. EDF said the project’s next major milestone is lifting of the dome on Unit 1, which is set for the second quarter of 2023.
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