With start of construction of the first new Hinkley Point C reactor still two years away, French utility EFF said this week that the estimated cost for the project had risen by close to $2 billion and that the initial start up for the first reactor would be in 2027, two years behind schedule.
The total costs, said EDF, are now estimated to be $25.4 billion due to a new understanding of the demands of British regulators and more site preparation work than previously expected.
“The estimated additional costs result mainly from a better understanding of the design adapted to the requirements of the British regulators, the volume and sequencing of work on site and the gradual implementation of supplier contracts,” EDF said.
Estimates on how long delayed a project as large as Hinkley Point C could be often becomes a media game. In 2007, EDF Chief Executive Officer Vincent de Rivaz, who is stepping down in October, famously said that Britons would be cooking their Christmas turkeys with power generated at Hinkley Point C by 2017. His prosaic statement started the clock ticking on a completion date, even though site work did not begin until February 2012, while the first concrete pour at the site did not occur until March 2017.
This week's announcement appears designed to counter a recently publicized analytical report done at Barlcays bank that said the project was $5.83 billion over budget due to delays predicted to be four years in length.
EDF's estimate may have been designed to placate shareholders, but media reports are playing it as EDF stirring up concerns of major delays and “soaring” costs.
Much of the delays over the past decade has been either financial or political. When Hinkley Point C was first proposed Prime Minister Tony Blair was still in office. His successor, David Cameron, later struck a deal with China that allowed for Chinese investment in the project. Including seeking Chinese support, EDF spent time shopping the project to other investors, eventually striking a deal with China General Nuclear Power Group.
Before concrete was poured a third prime minister, Theresa May, became involved. As her administration took over, May called for a review of the project, citing the need to ensure the deal that would not put control of nuclear power in Britain into Chinese hands.
China General Nuclear Power Group is taking a minor position in the Hinkley Point C project with the understanding that it would assume a larger role in two other nuclear plant projects in the future.
Hinkley Point C, now expected to start in 2027, is designed to meet 7 percent of Britain's electricity demand.
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