Years late and massively over-budget, Europe’s first EPR nuclear reactors are finally about to load fuel and energize. This is the final act in the region’s longest-running generation construction saga, with delivery of first power from EPRs in Finland and France due before end-2019. Ten years late and 2.5 times over its original Eur3.2 billion budget, TVO’s 1.6 GW Olkiluoto-3 project in Finland could produce up to 4 TWh next year ahead of full operation in early 2020 – assuming the latest delay announced in November is the last. Meanwhile a mere eight years late and, at Eur10.5 billion, three times over budget, EDF’s 1.6 GW Flamanville 3 project in Normandy, northern France is due to deliver first power in summer 2019 if it can clear regulatory concern over welds. Even when complete, there is a cloud hanging over this project because of anomalies found in its reactor pressure vessel head and bottom. Regulator ASN has said the closure head must not be used beyond 2024. These baseload additions buck the longer term trend towards growing volatility in generation, as renewables displace conventional thermal. Additions of 9 GW next year across west Europe are skewed towards onshore and offshore wind, while closures of 12 GW are almost exclusively of coal, nuclear or gas plant, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics. For the year just passed, over 15 GW of thermal generation closed across Europe, offset by just 3 GW of gas plant additions. Meanwhile 24 GW of wind and solar were added, according to Entso-e. The year on year removal of thermal generation now means that Finland, Hungary, Northern-Central Italy, Southern-Central Italy and Lithuania rely on imports throughout winter. Under harsh winter conditions others become reliant on imports, including Austria, Belgium, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Platts 21st Dec 2018 read more »