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EDF announces further delay for UK nuclear plant

04 September 2015

French energy company EDF has said that the construction of Britain's first new nuclear power plant in decades, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, will not start generating power in 2023 as planned. The company said it will provide a revised timetable for the £24.5bn plant when it takes a final investment decision on the project.

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF
Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF

The delay to Hinkley Point delay will have a serious impact on government energy plans. The UK's old coal-fired power plants will be forced to close before 2023 under EU air quality rules and the gap in generating capacity will have to be filled some other way.

On September 3, EDF said the new European Pressurised Reactors it is building at Flamanville in Normandy would be further delayed until late 2018.

Technical problems, tightened safety rules following the 2011 Fukushima disaster and problems with suppliers have been given as the causes of the delays, which have pushed back the commissioning date four times. The cost of the Flamanville plant, now put at 10.5 billion euros, has ballooned to more than three times initial estimates.

In April, nuclear regulator ASN said weak spots had been found in the EPRs' steel containment vessel. This forced EDF to do costly new tests and further delayed the project. In June, the regulator also raised questions about safety valves at the plant.

EDF is planning  to install two EPRs at Hinkley Point.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The UK Government and EDF are continuing to work together to finalise the project. The deal must represent value for money and is subject to approval by ministers."

This news comes as a report for the OECD says that the UK's projected nuclear costs are the highest in the world. The OECD report showed that the cost of a nuclear plant in Britain is projected to be almost three times higher than in China or South Korea.

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