Home Business In France, the United Kingdom, Finland, cascading delays for EPRs

In France, the United Kingdom, Finland, cascading delays for EPRs

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Another setback for the EPR. EDF announced Thursday, May 19 that the construction site of two new generation nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in England would show a further delay of at least one year and additional costs of at least 3.5 billion euros. Yet another disappointment for the EPR programs which are accumulating difficulties.

► In Finland, 12 years behind

Construction of the Olkiluoto-3 EPR reactor began in southwestern Finland in July 2005. As at Hinkley Point, commissioning initially scheduled for 2009 has been postponed several times due to technical problems. A financial dispute between Areva and the Finnish project owner TVO, who mutually accuse each other of the delay, also contributed to slowing down the site.

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In 2011, an additional cost of 3.6 billion euros and a delay of five years are announced. In 2013, it is seven years behind and 5 billion euros. In November 2014, Areva estimated that the reactor would not return to service until 2018. The first fission finally took place on December 20, 2021, 12 years late.

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► In Flamanville, the French failure

The first concrete for the Flamanville reactor was poured in December 2007. Commissioning was then scheduled for 2012. In 2011, EDF announced a postponement to 2016 and a cost, almost doubled, from 3.3 to 6 billion euros. In 2012, the price increases to 8.5 billion, and in 2014, the commissioning is postponed to 2017.

On April 15, 2015, manufacturing anomalies were detected: the composition of the steel in the vessel contained too much carbon, which weakened it. Commissioning is once again postponed to 2018. The bill soars again to reach 10.5 billion euros and then 10.9 billion.

The following year, EDF announced a postponement of the date of commissioning of the reactor to the end of 2022 before pushing back the deadline to mid-2023. The duration of the project is gradually approaching 20 years, instead of the 5 years originally planned.

► In China, “only” 5 years behind schedule

In 2007, Areva signed a contract with the Chinese utility CGNPC to build two EPRs in Guangdong province. The opening is at the time scheduled for 2013. This date will then be postponed to 2016. It will in fact be necessary to wait until June 29, 2018 for the Taishan 1 reactor to become the first EPR to produce electricity. With a delay of “only” 5 years on the initial schedule. The second reactor will follow, with commissioning in 2019.

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This project experienced fewer difficulties, benefiting in particular from the lessons of the two previous ones, underline the experts. Chinese civil engineering has also proven effective. Until a fault appears in the vessel of the first reactor, leading to its shutdown “for maintenance” since July 2021.

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