28 Mar, 2022 By Catherine Moore
EDF Energy is reviewing the costs and timeframes of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, with fears that challenges including the Ukraine conflict could push up costs and cause delays.
According to the Telegraph, updates are expected in the summer following EDF’s “new comprehensive review” of the Somerset power plant.
In documents filed with French financial authorities, EDF said: “Due to the difficulties encountered by the project, notably on civil performance and marine works, and the increase in risks such as the Ukrainian conflict, Brexit, Covid, supply chain disruption and inflation, a new comprehensive review to update the costs and schedule estimates announced in January 2021 is underway and is expected to be finalised by summer 2022.”
EDF said “productivity has been impacted” because of social distancing measures during the pandemic, while the work to bring in cooling waters from the Bristol Channel had been slowed down because of “permit delays”.
In January 2021, EDF revealed that the cost of Hinkley Point C had risen by around £500M and its completion date was pushed back to June 2026 due to delays arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
EDF said it expected the Somerset project to cost up to £23bn compared with a 2019 estimate of a £22.5bn maximum. It was originally forecast to cost £18bn. Previously, in September 2019, EDF announced a £2.9bn cost increase due to “challenging ground conditions”.
It comes as the government’s new energy strategy, now expected this week, has reportedly been delayed due to discussions about state-funded nuclear power projects.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said he wants 25% of the UK’s energy to be provided by nuclear power, an increase on the current level of 16%, to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.
Hinkley Point C delivery director Nigel Cann has previously backed an increase in energy from nuclear power.
With the gradual winding down of UK nuclear plants, according to Cann only 10% of the country’s energy will be nuclear by the end of the decade, provided by Hinkley and Sizewell B.
This used to sit at around 20% and he feels that it would be beneficial to return to these levels.
“Our view is if you can get to 20%+ of energy in the UK generated by nuclear then at least you’re back to where you started and renewables have only really got to replace the coal and gas,” he told NCE.
“If you had three Hinkley-sized plants at Wylfa, Hinkley and Sizewell C that would be fantastic start. Who knows whether SMRs will play a part but at the minute there’s no credible technology that somebody could build.”
A range of energy options are currently under consideration by the government as Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine continues to drive up prices. These include large nuclear, SMRs and renewables.
Construction at Hinkley Point C began in October 2016, bringing the project just past the five-year mark.
In February, a new milestone was reached in its construction, with the Office for Nuclear Regulation granting permission for the start of bulk mechanical, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning component installation work.
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