Further Delays as Costs Mount on The Hinkley Point C Reactor Plant

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Recently, EDF, a French utility pushed back the commencement date of its British 3.2-gigawatt (GW) Hinkley Point C reactor plant to 2029, with the cost of the undertaking ranging from £31 billion and £34 billion ($43.06 billion), according to 2015 values.

Located in southwest England, the project is the first new nuclear plant in the country for the past two decades. It was expected to be up and running in June 2027, as per the previous update provided. The update provided also included the estimated cost of execution ranging from £25- £26 billion. 

The project’s initial estimated cost

It was also a revision of the initial 2025 commencement date, with an estimated cost of £18 billion. According to EDF, the project was initially expected to provide electricity for British households in 2017.

As per the utility, the newly set target date is according to the current productivity objectives as EDF moves to the ramp-up of electro-mechanical tasks. This follows the installation of the dome on the first unit in December. The government of the UK recently declared its plans of accelerating new nuclear projects through introducing a timeframe that needs an investment decision after 5 years starting from 2030 to 2044. 

The government is also looking to explore another new large scale nuclear power plant’s potential.

By mid-century, Britain looks to add its nuclear energy to 24 GW, an increase from today’s 6 GW. This could roughly meet at the quarter of the nation’s predicted energy demand. 

Similar project

It is said that the British government is looking to invest a further 1.3 billion in the planned 3.2-GW Sizewell C plant, though it is yet to see a final investment decision. 

Any extra costs as well as schedule overruns on the Hinkley Point C, according to spokesperson of the department for energy security and net zero, will solely be handled by EDF and its partners since it is not owned by the government.

Other new nuclear projects, similar to the Hinkley Point C reactor plant, have also seen delays and huge costs increase. Such projects are located in Olkiluoto, Finland and  Flamanville, France.

An image showing the progress of work at Hinkley Point C nuclear plant

EDF also claimed that Hinkley Point C reactor plant’s electromechanical work needed comes after the basic construction phase. This is where the contractor shifts from works like concrete pouring to wiring as well as setting up the reactor. 

There are two more possible schemes as per the company. One of them would see the project delayed until 2030, with the cost maintained. The second scheme suggests the project’s postponement up to 2031.

Why the Hinkley Point C reactor plant project costs were revised

According to a statement released by EDF, based on 2015 values, the project would come at a cost of £34 billion. It added that the two main reasons why the cost was revised is due to civil engineering costs and lengthy electromechanical phase.

Stuart Crooks, managing director at Hinkley Point C, said in a note to staff that the entity has been forced to adapt the plant’s design to meet the country’s regulations, needing up to 7,000 changes as well as adding 70% more steel along with 25% extra concrete. He highlighted that the civil works are slower than what they had expected.

Also read:

Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant, First of its Kind to be Built in UK Since 1995

Sizewell C nuclear power station in the UK

The UK to Develop Eight Additional Nuclear Power Plants