EDF Energy is reported to have postponed its decision on whether to build two new reactors in Somerset. It was supposed to make a final investment decision by the end of 2012, but now looks unlikely to decide before April 2013. The delay puts the UK’s nuclear renaissance into further doubt just as EDF admitted the cost of building its prototype reactor at Flamanville in Normandy has risen by €2bn (£1.6bn) to €8.5bn. EDF’s partner in the Flamanville scheme, Enel of Italy, has pulled out. Flamanville was originally expected to cost €3.3 billion and be ready around 2012, but the opening date is now expected to be 2016.
Construction of Hinkley has now slipped by a full two years. First concrete pour on the nuclear island is not expected to take place until mid-2015 – two years later than originally planned. Not surprising, therefore that the government now expects only 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear plant to be built by 2025 and 9.9GW by 2030 (down from 4.8GW and 12GW respectively in the 2011 energy and emissions projections). As Greenpeace points out the energy bill is proposing to replace cost-effective support for renewables with complicated feed-in tariffs designed to cover up billions of pounds of public subsidy for new nuclear reactors. It’s time the government admitted that nuclear is going to be too expensive “and rule out blank cheques for a technology that has no future.”
12 December 2012