EDF confirms commitment to Hinkley Point C and Sizewell

EDF reiterated its commitment to build Hinkley Point C this week while announcing a deferred start date of the end of 2018 for generation from the plant it is constructing at Flamanville in France.

Reports also confirmed  that a late start at Hinkley which had expected a go ahead last year, would mean nuclear power from the project would not be hitting the UK grid in 2023 but would take almost a full decade from whenever the scheme went ahead.

"All of the experience gained at Flamanville will be invaluable for other EPR projects, such as Hinkley Point" - Jean-Bernard Levy

EDF’s chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told a news conference that Flamanville's problems would have no impact on EDF's plan to build two EPRs in Britain (at Hinkley and Sizewell), adding that he had "full confidence in the success of the Hinkley Point project".

"The EPR (at Flamanville) is a prototype and prototypes are always difficult," Levy said, adding that the new cost estimate of Euro 10.5bn released yesterday was realistic.

"I have reviewed the Flamanville EPR project in detail, and I am absolutely confident that it will be a success. It is a priority for EDF and of critical importance for the French nuclear industry and its success internationally,” Levy said.

Flamanville has been hit by many issues, the latest being in April when 'reactor vessel anomolies’ were reported in  a test vessel for those to be used for various nuclear plants, including Flamanville. Latest date for the plant to go into service had been 2017 but this will now be a year later.

Levy announced this week a streamlining of the Flamanville project management organisation and new contractual framewoks with key suppliers to keep the project on track for the new generation deadline. 

“Our teams and those of our partners, particularly Areva, are working to complete this project together in compliance with the most stringent nuclear and industrial safety standards. All of the experience gained at Flamanville will be invaluable for other EPR projects, such as Hinkley Point. Together with renewable energies, new nuclear build is an asset for successful energy transition to which EDF is fully committed."

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy, the union representing UK nuclear construction workers, welcomed the news from France and said progress there would have a direct impact on how efficiently Hinkley would be built.

"The problems with the Flamanville project are well known. GMB and the French union CGT have spoken out on this before. The fact the company has got a robust project management plan now in place is good news. The agreements GMB have for Hinkley take into account some of the experiences of what went wrong at Flamanville,” he said.

“The really positive news is the firm commitment from the EDF chairman both to Hinkley and Sizewell.

“This is great news as Hinkley Point C promises 25,000 job opportunities,1,000 apprenticeships and 60% of the construction cost going to UK companies.”

A final investment decision is on Hinkley is due in October.  

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