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EDF forecasts further delays and increased costs at new French nuclear plant

12 September 2012

Electricité de France (EDF) said in July that the new nuclear power station being built at the Flamanville site on the Normandy coast is now expected to open in 2016 and cost €6bn ($7.34bn), instead of the original starting date of 2012 and cost of €3.3bn.

Although 80% of the civil engineering work at Flamanville has been completed and assembly of piping and electrical equipment has begun, two serious accidents at the site slowed construction progress in 2011
Although 80% of the civil engineering work at Flamanville has been completed and assembly of piping and electrical equipment has begun, two serious accidents at the site slowed construction progress in 2011

EDF blamed "structural and economic reasons" for the latest delays at Flamanville 3, saying that it is the first nuclear power plant to be built in France for 15 years.

There have been similar delays and cost overruns at Olkiluoto in Finland, where another French company, Areva, is building the same reactor type. Both power plants will be using the Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). EDF is also using this design at Taishan in China, where construction is well advanced, and at Hinkley Point and Sizewell in the UK, where a final decision to proceed is expected before the end of the year. 

Although 80% of the civil engineering work at Flamanville has been completed and assembly of piping and electrical equipment has begun, two serious accidents at the site slowed construction progress in 2011. In addition, detailed analyses needed to be carried out as a result of the Fukushima incident.

Nucleonics Week said there had been a number of problems with welds in the steel liner of the containment building and errors in the installation of steel reinforcement. The French nuclear regulator, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, also halted concrete pouring work for three weeks in June and July last year citing “insufficient project organisation”.

The French state-owned utility said that it has decided to introduce a new approach to organisation of the project. This will include new site management and supervision practices, the creation of a committee to bring together the nine principal companies working on the site and the consolidation of requirements in terms of safety and preparation for intervention operations.

“This updated project will give EDF valuable feedback and a tried and tested approach to organisation for future EPR reactors, particularly in the United Kingdom,” EDF said. The French utility has already started preliminary site work in Somerset and Suffolk.

As regards its UK plans, EDF has previously said that it will publish an ‘adjusted timetable’ for its proposed new build projects this autumn. This timetable will take into account the final Fukushima lessons learned from UK nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s report, as well as EDF’s own lessons from its new-build projects in China and France, the utility said.




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