Olkiluoto, Flamanville, and Hinkley

Both on this site and in academic work, I have done a lot of research and writing on nuclear energy: specifically, it’s desirability as a low-carbon energy option and climate change solution, and perspectives on nuclear energy within the environmental and climate change activist movements.

The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) was designed by Framatome (now Areva NP) and Électricité de France (EDF), largely with the intention of being safer than previous designs through the presence of additional redundant safety systems and with the intention of being cheaper to build, in part by standardizing power plant designs to a greater extent than in previous projects, and in part by being larger than earlier designs.

Three EPRs are under construction in Europe: a third unit at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland, a third unit at the Flamanville site in France, and two reactors at Hinkley Point C in the United Kingdom.

All three projects have encountered major difficulties. All three are seriously over budget and behind schedule. €10.5bn has been spent on the Flamanville facility since 2007. In Finland, the project is a decade behind schedule and three times over budget. Hinkley is expected to cost £18 billion, and back in 2013 the U.K. government agreed to pay £92.50 per megawatt-hour for electricity from the reactor, which was twice the going rate for electricity at the time.

Furthermore, there are concerns about construction quality. In France, they have “found weaknesses in the reactor’s steel“, specifically flaws in the reactor pressure vessel. Many issues have been identified with the Finnish facility, including by their domestic nuclear regulator. There is also concern about the pressure vessels for Hinkley.

All this looks bad for the future of large nuclear power stations in Europe and North America. It’s possible new Russian and Chinese designs will be more successful. Indeed, China is the world’s most active site of nuclear construction. They had 32 operating reactors as of April 2016, and they had 20 reactors under construction. These include an American design (the world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactor (PWR)) and domestically developed designs like the Hualong One CPR-1000 PWR and the CAP1400 PWR which is being developed from the AP1000. China is also building two EPRs, which are also behind schedule. Russia is also promoting the the VVER PWR for domestic construction and export.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

55 thoughts on “Olkiluoto, Flamanville, and Hinkley”

  1. World Nuclear Association supports positive decision on Hinkley Point C

    Press Release Issue Date: 28 July 2016

    Speaking ahead of the upcoming EDF Board meeting, where a discussion on the Final Investment Decision for Hinkey Point C is expected, World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising said;

    “Hinkley Point C would set the UK on a course for a new generation of nuclear power plants that would be the foundation of a reliable low carbon electricity generation mix fit for the 21st century.”

    Hinkley Point C would be the first of a series of new build projects that will bring multinational nuclear energy expertise to the UK. Plans involving many reactor vendors are projected to bring more than 15 GWe of new nuclear build to the UK in the 2020s.

    The UK’s Climate Change Act commits the country to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990. Similar action is needed worldwide to tackle climate change effectively, requiring global decarbonisation of electricity generation by 2050, as well as meeting the growing demand for electricity as countries seek to achieve the benefits of development. These objectives can be achieved through a greater use of nuclear generation alongside other low carbon generation.

    World Nuclear Association has proposed the Harmony target for nuclear generation to supply 25% of the world’s electricity by 2050, which will require the construction of 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity. The number of reactors under construction worldwide is at a 25-year high, with ten reactors starting up in 2015, and the nuclear industry has the potential to further step up to deliver the Harmony objectives.

    Agneta Rising said;

    “We need to encourage international investment and ensure electricity markets support the energy choices that will meet the growing need for electricity worldwide and protect the planet.”

  2. Britain faces a problem in coping with its complex energy demands. It needs to provide extra energy to meet rising demands for power in coming decades but at a reasonable cost – while also reducing carbon emissions by considerable levels in order to meet its climate change commitments. This is not an easy combination to achieve. However, Hinkley Point was considered by many experts to be a crucial aid in reaching these goals.

    With its massive 3.2bn watt capacity, Hinkley Point C would provide 7% of the nation’s electricity when completed. Night and day, it would help to generate the power that would keep the nation working while renewable energy sources, mainly wind plants, would provide the rest of the electricity needed by homes and offices. “You have to have some baseload source to provide power when it is utterly calm and renewables are not providing energy,” explains Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute. “Gas and coal plants – which can also supply that baseload – will no longer be viable in future because of their carbon emissions, which cause global warming. You are then left with nuclear.”

    This dilemma reveals a major drawback that affects renewable energy. Wind and solar plants are intermittent power suppliers. They often provide power when it is not needed but fail to supply it when it is required. And until a method of storing energy on an industrial scale is developed, this drawback will continue to bedevil its deployment across the country. Research into ways to store energy on a large scale is now being pursued across the globe but may take decades. Similarly, other game-changing energy projects are being worked on.


  3. inkley’s reactors are a revolution only in the sense that they overturn all logic. Energy efficiency could deliver six Hinkley’s worth of electricity by 2030, interconnector cables to Norway, Denmark and France could add another two or three Hinkleys to the grid by 2025 and four Hinkleys’ worth of electricity could be saved by 2030 by increasing the ability to store electricity and making the grid smarter, with the latter alone saving bill payers £8bn a year. Solar and wind power are also cheaper than Hinkley’s nuclear power.

  4. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Reactions-to-Hinkley-Point-C-developments-2906162.html

    “Finally the decision to go ahead with Hinkley Point has been taken. This is most welcome, and a good deal for the UK. Although some may think that the strike price is high, it isn’t when you compare it with the cost of offshore wind, solar or other forms of renewable energy. We need a balanced portfolio of low carbon energy sources in the UK in the future.”

    Sue Ion, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering

    “The government’s decision to take longer to look at the contract does not change the fundamentals – that by 2030, two thirds of our electricity generation capacity will have retired, and we need to replace it with low carbon and reliable power for the future to improve our energy security and meet our commitments on carbon emissions targets. We now need the new ministers to quickly endorse the decision to show they are serious about industrial strategy, building new infrastructure by securing inward investment to create our low carbon energy supplies of the future.

    Tom Greatrex, chief executive, UK Nuclear Industry Association

  5. UK academics join pro-Hinkley nuclear project debate

    Nuclear engineering and climate change experts from Imperial College London have outlined the benefits of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in Somerset, England. They have joined the public debate on EDF Energy’s project, after new British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet announced last week that it wants to review the deal and decide in early autumn whether to commit its support.

  6. Russia to build 11 new nuclear reactors by 2030

    A Russian government decree published yesterday indicates the country plans to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors by 2030 – including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors. The document, which covers “territorial planning for energy” for the period, also identifies six points for radioactive waste disposal.

  7. China-U.S. cooperation to advance nuclear power

    With China having the largest fossil fuel CO2 emissions today and the United States being higher in per capita emissions (see related energy consumption in the first figure), these countries have a strong mutual interest in stabilizing climate and reducing air pollution. Yet even Germany, despite sizable subsidies of renewable energies, gets only a small fraction of energy from them (see the first figure). Historically the fastest growth of low-carbon power occurred during scale-up of national nuclear power programs (see the second figure). Some studies project that a doubling to quadrupling of nuclear energy output is required in the next few decades, along with a large expansion of renewable energy, in order to achieve deep cuts in fossil fuel use while meeting the growing global demand for affordable, reliable energy (1–4). In light of this large-scale energy and emissions picture, climate and nuclear energy experts from China and the United States convened (see Acknowledgments) to consider the potential of increased cooperation in developing advanced nuclear technologies.

    Barriers to expansion of nuclear energy include high construction costs relative to coal and gas; a long time to build conventional large nuclear plants (about 4 to 7 years in Asia versus 1 or 2 years for coal-fired plants); and public concern about reactor safety, waste disposal, and potential for weapons use. Innovative nuclear technologies can help address some of these issues. A large reduction of cost and construction time, essential to accelerate deployment rates, likely requires mass manufacturing, analogous to ship and airplane construction. Such an approach lends itself to product-type licensing, which avoids the long delay and costs associated with case-by-case approval. Passive safety features are available that allow reactor shutdown and cooling without external power or operator intervention. Other innovative designs use fuel more efficiently and produce less nuclear waste, can directly supply energy to industrial processes that currently rely on fossil fuels, can be ordered in a range of scales to suit a variety of needs and geographies, and can reduce or eliminate cooling-water requirements. Some of these developments could be deployed on a large scale by 2030–2050, a time when deep reductions in global carbon emissions will be needed, even as much of the world’s current nuclear fleets are approaching the end of useful life.

  8. With surprising vehemence, The Economist has called for the Hinkley Point project to be scrapped:

    • Hinkley Pointless: Britain should cancel its nuclear white elephant and spend the billions on making renewables work
    • When the facts change… Hinkley Point would tie Britain into an energy system that is already out of date

    Their main arguments about about economics and alternatives. I worry, though, that they are too concerned about an effort to get a good deal and often insufficiently concerned about climate change.

    To have confidence that we will prevent the worst effects of climate change, we may need to invest inefficiently. We may need to invest in renewable forms of energy and forms of energy storage which don’t ultimately prove to be the best. We may need to invest in both conventional and new types of nuclear reactor design. We may even need to dabble in technologies like fossil fuel burning with carbon capture and storage.

    How to achieve this, when neither governments nor citizens are willing to accept the real costs and changes associated with addressing climate change, is a whole other matter of uncertainty.

  9. Why Hinkley matters

    You urged the British government to cancel the Hinkley Point nuclear-power project and instead spend the money on renewable energy (“Hinkley Pointless”, August 6th). There are a few things to bear in mind that were not mentioned in your leader. We take the construction risk. The consumer pays nothing before Hinkley starts producing electricity. The fact that prices decades from now are unknown is precisely why investors and consumers benefit from a set price today. It protects consumers from volatility. It makes investment possible. You also claimed that combined-cycle gas turbines are cheaper to run (“When the facts change…”, August 6th). That is only true based on today’s low gas and carbon prices and with the running costs of existing plants. The correct comparison is with future options. Under the government’s central forecast for gas and rising carbon prices, the cost of a gas-plant commissioning in 2025 is close to the Hinkley strike price.

    Moreover, the government’s pledge to pay £92.50 ($120) per megawatt hour for Hinkley’s output is lower than the average £123 per MWh in renewables’ support schemes. You compared specific technologies without considering the whole-system cost. In fact, a low-carbon mix with nuclear is significantly more affordable than one without. Other technologies play a role but cannot replace the need for large-scale low-carbon generation.

    Hinkley will create thousands of jobs as part of a real industrial strategy. Suggesting that Britain could “muddle along” is an unwise response to the issues of energy security and climate change. Hinkley Point is a wise response.

    Director of strategy and corporate affairs
    EDF Energy

  10. “We need to replace our ageing fossil fuel plants with new low-carbon electricity. It’s a more complex future with interconnectors, batteries, gas, small and large nuclear, renewables, central and decentralised generation. The challenge is to get the right mix,” wrote de Rivaz, “There is no single technology which offers a panacea for our future needs. We need them all, including new nuclear.”

    Wind power has grown significantly in the UK in recent years and now provides about 15% of electricity. However, de Rivaz also noted that auctions for offshore wind have recently averaged £137 per MWh, with a further £10 per MWh required to cover its intermittency, which compares poorly to Hinkley Point’s £92.50 per MWh.

  11. Nuclear power – yes please. Hinkley Point – no thanks

    Atomic energy is low carbon and safer than you think. But Hinkley C is an expensive white elephant

    Nuclear power, whatever its detractors might claim, is a low-carbon energy source, roughly comparable to renewables in terms of total emissions. To shut down viable nuclear capacity in the midst of a climate change emergency (now, in other words), as Germany and Japan have done, is a refined form of madness, especially when at least some of that capacity is likely to be replaced by gas or coal, whose carbon emissions are much higher. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables, on the timescale in which we need to act, is hard enough, without setting yourself the additional, unnecessary challenge of also replacing nuclear power.

    Atomic energy is far less dangerous to human beings and the living world than fossil fuels. The dangers of radioactive discharge and nuclear accidents have been systematically exaggerated by campaigners. As a result, the dangers of fossil fuel burning have been implicitly downgraded.

    There are several problems with the Hinkley C proposal but the most immediate is this: it could be unbuildable. We all know by now of the delays, debacles and disasters that have beset attempts to construct the only two plants of the same kind, at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in Normandy. The evidence suggests that these are not just bad luck but an inherent outcome of the fabulously complex design. As Tony Roulstone, who runs the masters programme in nuclear engineering at Cambridge, has argued, the plan for Hinkley C is like “building a cathedral within a cathedral”.

  12. “But there are several potential technologies that raise the possibility of addressing three problems at once: safely disposing of nuclear waste; meeting the country’s energy needs at low cost; and replacing high-carbon electricity with a very low-carbon source. I’m talking about small modular reactors that use nuclear waste as fuel.

    The late Professor David MacKay, the brilliant and exuberant chief scientist at the previous government’s climate change department, endorsed an estimate suggesting that one of these potential technologies, the integral fast reactor, could supply all the UK’s energy needs for 500 years by consuming the nuclear waste stockpile.”

  13. UK government gives go-ahead for Hinkley Point C

    The UK government today announced its approval for the construction of two EPR reactors at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset after reaching a new agreement in principle with EDF. However, it has imposed certain conditions for foreign investment in future British nuclear power plant projects.

  14. France’s nuclear-energy champion is in turmoil
    Electricité de France has had to shut down 18 of its 58 nuclear reactors

    THESE are difficult times for Electricité de France (EDF), the country’s quasi-monopolistic electricity provider, serving 88% of homes. Outages at no fewer than 18 of the 58 EDF-owned nuclear reactors that provide three-quarters of France’s electricity have meant a slump in production: the company says annual nuclear output could fall to 378 terawatt hours (TWH), from 417 TWH last year. Eight reactors are currently lying idle and several may not restart for weeks or months. Power stations are burning coal at a rate not seen since the 1980s. As electricity imports and prices soar, officials are having to deny that a cold snap could bring blackouts.

    The cause of the crisis—possibly faulty reactor parts throughout EDF’s fleet—suggests it may not be easily contained. France’s nuclear regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), this summer ordered urgent tests of reactor parts, mostly bases of cylindrical steam generators. Inspectors are worried about high carbon levels found in steel forged by Creusot Forge, which is owned by Areva, another French firm, and by Japan Casting & Forging Corporation, a Japanese supplier. In some pieces carbon deposits are over 50% above permitted levels, risking fracture in case of a sudden change in the temperature of the steel.

  15. THERE are few more storied innovators than Westinghouse. Founded in 1886, it is the company that brought electricity to the masses. When you plug in your toaster or flip your light switch, you have George Westinghouse’s alternating-current system to thank. In the 21st century the firm seemed poised to unleash a new revolution in nuclear energy. Its AP1000 pressurised water reactor was supposed to make nuclear plants simpler and cheaper to build, helping to jump-start projects in America and around the world.

    But those nuclear ambitions have gone awry. On March 29th the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. Its troubles have been a running sore at Toshiba, its Japanese parent, a headache for its creditors, and the latest bad tidings for a nuclear industry beset with problems.

    Toshiba was triumphant in 2006 when it paid $5.4bn for Westinghouse after a bidding war, beating out General Electric (founded by George Westinghouse’s archrival, Thomas Edison). Around the same time, Southern and SCANA, two big utilities based in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively, chose the AP1000 design for new nuclear plants.

    But these American projects soon faced the problems that have long plagued nuclear construction. In Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing, the company explains a dismal chain reaction. Unexpected new safety and other requirements from American regulators caused delays and additional costs. That sparked a fight between the utilities, Westinghouse and its construction contractor, a subsidiary of Chicago Bridge & Iron (CB&I), about who should bear them. The brawl exacerbated delays.

    In an attempt to push the projects forward, Westinghouse acquired CB&I’s subsidiary, then became mired in litigation over the terms of the deal. It also signed new contracts with consortia led by Southern and SCANA, agreeing to shoulder unanticipated costs. Those costs mounted. Construction continued swallowing more time and labour than Westinghouse had hoped. In February Toshiba announced a $6.1bn write-down for the two American projects. Stephen Byrd of Morgan Stanley, a bank, anticipates that the total costs of the plants, if completed, would be about twice Westinghouse’s original estimate.

  16. As the industry struggles, is it ‘time to recognize the nuclear show’s over’?

    “I’m freaked out, honestly,” said Michael Shellenberger, president of Berkeley-based Environmental Progress, a group that considers nuclear power an essential element to battle climate change.

    Westinghouse, a Toshiba subsidiary, was supposed to help build the first fleet of new-generation nuclear plants in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979.

    Two reactors in Georgia and two others in South Carolina promised to employ the latest technology — called AP1000 — to usher in a new century of nuclear development, delivering robust electricity production while ensuring structures were simpler, safer and less expensive.

    But construction at each site has been dogged by delays and cost overruns.

  17. Cost of Hinkley Point C rises by 8%, EDF says

    EDF estimates the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in the UK to now total £19.6 billion ($25.4 billion), up from its earlier estimate of £18.1 billion. The target date for first operation of unit 1 remains by the end of 2025.

    UK government remains committed to nuclear, minister says

    Nuclear firmly remains an important part of the UK’s energy mix and the government will ensure Britain’s exit from the European Union will not have a negative impact on the country’s nuclear industry, Energy Minister Richard Harrington has confirmed. Harrington has been undersecretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for less than two weeks following a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May.

  18. EDF ‘aims to prove’ Flamanville 3 reactor cap can stay

    EDF has “taken note” of the French nuclear regulator’s position indicating that the Flamanville 3 reactor pressure vessel (RPV) is fit for service, but aims to prove that regular maintenance would avoid the need to change the closure head of the RPV in 2024.

    French regulator says Flamanville 3 is safe to start

    The French nuclear regulator has provisionally ruled that EDF’s Flamanville 3 can start up safely, but that the head of its reactor pressure vessel (RPV) will need to be replaced by the end of 2024. The Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) said yesterday the unit, which is under construction in northwest France, is fit for operation despite issues with its steel.

  19. Georgia Power expects late August decision on Vogtle

    Georgia Power estimates net additional capital costs of $1.0-1.7 billion to complete the two AP1000s under construction at Vogtle, it said yesterday. It expects to make its recommendations on whether or not to proceed with the project to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) later this month.

  20. First criticality achieved at Chinese EPR

    Unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant in China’s Guangdong province has attained a sustained chain reaction for the first time, becoming the first EPR reactor to reach the commissioning milestone. The unit is expected to enter commercial operation later this year.

  21. Start-up of Finnish EPR put back four months

    14 June 2018

    Regular electricity generation at the Olkiluoto 3 EPR in Finland is now expected to begin in September 2019 as commissioning tests will take longer than planned, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) announced yesterday. According to the previous schedule provided by plant supplier the Areva-Siemens consortium, production was planned to start next May.

  22. EDF revises schedule, costs of Flamanville EPR

    French utility EDF announced today that fuel loading at the Flamanville EPR will now take place in the fourth quarter of 2019, instead of the previously scheduled fourth quarter of this year. Meanwhile, the cost of the 1650 MWe pressurised water reactor (PWR) has increased from EUR10.5 billion (USD12.3 billion) to EUR10.9 billion.

  23. Review of Le Creusot records passes milestone

    France’s Framatome announced today that it has completed identifying and characterising deviations in all of the manufacturing records from the Le Creusot site for forgings used in French nuclear power plants. Manufacturing operations at the facility – which were suspended in December 2015 following the discovery of quality assurance issues – resumed in January.

  24. For Wales, Nuclear Plant Would Mean New Jobs. For the U.K., It May Mean More

    The Wylfa Newydd plant, with two giant reactors, would be just the second nuclear plant to be built in the United Kingdom since the 1990s. Once a world leader, Britain’s nuclear industry atrophied after serious accidents in Ukraine and the United States spurred broad resistance to nuclear power.

    Britain has legally committed to cutting carbon emissions. As a result, the government is reassessing its energy options amid a decline in natural gas from the North Sea oil fields and a decision to phase out the use of coal.

    Proponents of wind and solar energy say Britain should be putting its money there, but those sources have not been able to match the steady supply of power nuclear energy produces. So nuclear plants are back in vogue. One is being built at Hinkley Point in southwest England, and at least four more are planned.

    For Anglesey Island, with a population of about 70,000, the project would provide a huge lift and create around 850 permanent jobs. Many local residents favor it because a smaller nuclear facility on a nearby seaside bluff was a dependable employer for nearly 50 years before closing in 2015.

    Gareth Winston Roberts, a local councilor who worked at the plant — known as Wylfa, after the bluff — before retiring in the 1990s, called it “a godsend.”

    “It kept people here,” he said. “It produced a lot of engineers.”

  25. Nuclear plant in Anglesey suspended by Hitachi

    Hitachi has said it will suspend work on a multi-billion-pound UK nuclear project because of rising costs.

    The decision puts thousands of jobs at risk if the £13bn plant at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey, north Wales, is scrapped.

    The Japanese firm had been in talks with the UK government since June about funding for the project, which was being built by its Horizon subsidiary.

    The government said it had failed to agree terms with Hitachi. The nuclear industry said it was “disappointing”.

    Hitachi said it would also suspend work on another site, in Oldbury in Gloucestershire, “until a solution can be found”.

    About 9,000 workers had been expected to be involved in building the two nuclear reactors, which were due to be operational by the mid-2020s.

  26. UK unveils financial terms it offered Hitachi

    Clark gave an oral statement to the House of Commons concerning the UK’s nuclear future following Hitachi’s announcement. The GBP15 billion (USD19.4 billion) Wylfa Newydd plant was expected to be operational by the mid-2020s and create 9000 jobs in the area. Clark described the commercially sensitive details of the negotiations BEIS and Hitachi had held since last June.

    Firstly, the government was willing to consider taking a one-third equity stake in the project, alongside investment from Hitachi and government of Japan agencies and other strategic partners. Secondly, the government was willing to consider providing all the required debt financing to complete construction. Thirdly, it agreed to consider providing a Contract for Difference to the project with a strike price expected to be no more GBP75 per megawatt hour.

  27. Finnish EPR receives operating licence

    The Finnish government today granted utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) an operating licence for the first-of-a-kind EPR at Olkiluoto. Once it enters commercial operation early next year, the 1600 MWe pressurised water reactor will supply some 15% of the country’s electricity demand.

  28. Weld repairs to delay Flamanville EPR start-up

    Eight welds in the main steam transfer pipes that penetrate the two walls of the containment of the Flamanville EPR must be repaired before the reactor is commissioned, France’s nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) has told EDF. The utility will assess the decision’s impact on the cost and schedule of the project.

    Fuel loading delayed at Finnish EPR

    Nuclear fuel will not be loaded into the core of the first-of-a-kind EPR at Olkiluoto until at least the end of August, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) said today. Under the previous schedule, fuel loading had been due to take place this month.

  29. Foundation in place for first Hinkley Point C unit

    Construction of the concrete basemat has been completed for the nuclear island of the first of two EPR units at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, England. The major milestone came as the Confederation of British Industry called for the UK government to support the construction of more new reactors.

  30. EDF warns of added costs of Flamanville EPR weld repairs

    French utility EDF said its preferred option for repairing the main secondary system penetration welds, using robots, will increase the cost of constructing the Flamanville EPR by EUR1.5 billion (USD1.6 billion). The loading of fuel into the reactor would also be further delayed until the end of 2022.

  31. TVO seeks go-ahead for Olkiluoto EPR fuel loading

    Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) yesterday applied to the Finnish nuclear regulator for permission to load fuel into the reactor of the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) EPR. This process, which had been scheduled for June, is likely to be delayed however because of measures put in place at the plant to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  32. Further delay in commissioning of Finnish EPR

    Fuel loading at the Olkiluoto 3 EPR will now not take place until March next year, according to a revised schedule provided to Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) by the Areva-Siemens consortium. Grid connection is now scheduled for October 2021, with regular electricity production due to start in February 2022.

  33. The government’s latest thinking on how to replace its aging fleet of nuclear plants marks a dramatic shift from 2013, when David Cameron agreed to funding for new reactors at the Hinkley Point site with support from China. Since then, relations with China have deteriorated, electricity demand slumped and renewables such as wind and solar farms became much cheaper than new atomic plants.

    “Large scale reactors are running into problems with delays, and developers pulling out,” said Rob Gross, director of the U.K. Energy Research Center. “By contrast, small modular reactors are new and exciting, with a leading role for British firms.”

    That left an uncertain outlook for the £20 billion Sizewell C nuclear project in eastern England that EDF is hoping to develop. That would replace units set to retire in 2035, when the last of the existing fleet of atomic plants in the U.K. will close. Including the Hinkley Point B that EDF said will close in 2022, four major plants will close in the next four years. The only project set to come online is Hinkley Point C in 2025.


  34. The government has begun talks with EDF about the construction of a new £20bn nuclear power plant in Suffolk.

    The Sizewell C site could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to provide 7% of the UK’s needs.

    But it has proved controversial with campaigners saying it is “ridiculously expensive” and that taxpayers will have to foot the bill for extra costs.

    The government said any deal would be subject to approval on areas such as value for money and affordability.

    EDF, the French energy giant, is also building the Hinkley Point C nuclear energy plant in Somerset in partnership with China General Nuclear Power.

    The government said talks with EDF about Sizewell C would depend on the progress of the Hinkley Point C. However, that project is set to cost up to £2.9bn more than originally thought and will be up to 15 months late.

  35. These uncertainties reflect the fact that nuclear construction often fails to meet the high standards to which it is understandably held. When regulators notice things, they have to be put right. The concrete used at Olkiluoto was initially not up to scratch, with too much water in the mix. Then there were problems with the systems used to monitor and control the plant, leading to legal battles with two contractors, France’s Areva and Germany’s Siemens. Flamanville is dogged by faulty welding. According to Reuters, a news agency, 800 of the 3,000 people working on the plant are repairing bad welds.

    To break this cycle requires both better building and new financing models. The construction at hpc is using modern planning and prefabrication techniques which are designed to make the build more likely to come in on time. Instead of being welded piece-by-piece, in situ, reactor components are built “offline”, away from the reactor itself, then hoisted into place: hence the need for a very big crane. Similar sorts of reform have been tried before; the ap1000, in particular, was designed with this sort of approach in mind. This time they may actually be working. Simon Gould, a specialist welder with tissot Industrie who worked on both Flamanville and Olkiluoto calls the Hinkley system “a game changer”. edf says construction of the second of hpc’s reactors is going 30% faster than construction of the first did as the new approach hits its stride.


  36. Meanwhile, with little accountability and oversight the industry became a state within a state, characterised by what one former insider calls “a serious lack of self-doubt”. This led to some terrible business decisions. In the early 2000s Framatome, the company that built reactors for edf, developed ambitions of its own. Under new management—and a new name, Areva—it signed a contract with Finland to build a new type of plant, the European pressurised-water reactor (epr), developed jointly with Siemens, a German conglomerate. Not to be outdone, edf decided to build its own epr at home in Flamanville, and sell others to China and Britain.

    Areva and edf both started construction before they knew what exactly they would build and how much it would cost. As often happens in Franco-German projects, the epr was an unwieldy beast, not least because it had to satisfy both countries’ nuclear inspectors. The upshot is that neither reactor has yet produced much electricity. Both are way over budget. The Finnish project, at Olkiluoto, bankrupted Areva, whose reactors business edf took over in 2017. The cost of Flamanville has gone from €3.3bn in 2007 (then $4.8bn) to €19bn (including financing) and counting.


  37. ritish politicians like talking about nuclear power. Earlier this month the energy secretary, Claire Coutinho, trumpeted plans for “the biggest expansion of nuclear capacity in 70 years”. Ms Coutinho’s “roadmap” is the latest in a long line of such plans: one in 2022, from the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, for a “nuclear renaissance” with a reactor built each year; one in 2015 from George Osborne, a chancellor keen to woo Chinese investment; and one promoted in 2008 by Gordon Brown, another prime minister, to have eight new reactors running by 2023.

    What seems to be harder is actually getting any plants built. Not one of Mr Brown’s reactors has yet materialised. In 2016 edf, a French company, and cgn, a Chinese firm, started work on Hinkley Point c, a 3.2-gigawatt (gw)-capacity plant. The planned completion date was 2025 and the budget was £24bn ($30.6bn) in current prices. On January 23rd edf admitted that the plant may not be ready until 2031, and could cost up to £46bn.


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