Flamanville 3 Hit With Pandemic-Based Delay

Blaming the global pandemic, French utility EDF has pushed back start up of the Flamanville 3 nuclear power plant by at least six months. EDF said Wednesday that fuel loading for the nearly completed unit would not be until the second quarter of 2023, a push back from the previous schedule of late this year.

Flamanvile 3It is the latest setback for the project that was originally expected to have the reactor up and running in 2012. The construction start for Flamanville 3 was in 2007, 15 years ago.

As with any delay, costs also increased. EDF announced the budget would increase by $340 million to a grand total of $14.09 billion. Meanwhile, the delays and cost overruns have made the project an easy target for nuclear power naysayers.

French President Emmanuel Macron stands behind it, but other politicians are taking pot shots. Political reival Jean-Luc Melenchon called the latest delay “a shipwreck for the nuclear sector.”

Some view the project as a pivotal one for Europe’s climate change initiatives. France has 56 operating nuclear power plants, while neighbor Germany is pushing forward on plans to close its nuclear fleet down. The German phase out is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

As testament to the impact of nuclear power, the French government announced that the delay at Flamanville 3 would push back closure of a coal burning plant in western France to 2024.

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