It seems increasingly likely that the French or British Governments will be sinking more money into Hinkley C over and above what has already been agreed. EDF is close to failing to fulfil contract conditions necessary to be given loan guarantees by the Treasury. These conditions were set out in the agreement between the UK Government and EDF in 2013. This is because EDF’s new French reactor at Flamanville continues to experience construction delays and seems unlikely to show good performance by the end of 2020 as required in the 2013 agreement with the UK Government. The UK Government (in 2013) agreed a contract with EDF and agreed to pay them £92.50 per MWh for 35 years (2012 prices) from the date of commissioning. However, in addition the Treasury agreed to guarantee many billions of loans that EDF needs to borrow from banks on condition that the Flamanville 3 reactor was brought fully online by the end of 2020, something that now seems unlikely to occur. It is only recently that EDF has begun serious construction of the Hinkley C reactor itself (as opposed to developing logistical support infrastructure), and given an expected 8 year timescale for completion of the twin reactor project, the reactors will not be fully operational until 2027 – of course, only if things go well. The loan guarantees needed are estimated by Steve Thomas (1) to amount to £14 billion. Yet according to the UK Government’s conditions, loan guarantees will only be approved, (according to the EU Commission’s analysis of the documents) if the the Flamanville power plant has fulfilled the performance requirements set by the Government during the ‘trial operation period’ by the end of 2020 (2). However, the trial operation period, that is after grid connection and first generation (3), is not going to start until, at the earliest, part way through 2020 itself. Even this dateline is highly likely to slip as the French nuclear safety regulator demands further assurances (4). A trial operation period might be expected to last a year, so it will now be very difficult for EDF to fulfil the criteria set for the automatic granting of the loan guarantees. The point of this loan guarantee condition was that the Flamanville plant is of the same type (European Pressurised Reactor – EPR) as the design for Hinkley C.
Dave Toke’s Blog 15th Feb 2019 read more »
MORE than 70 children from local primary schools headed to Hinkley C last week for the official naming ceremony of three enormous tunnel boring machines. The competition gave 215 primary schools from across Somerset the opportunity to name the three 1,200 tonne tunnel boring machines that will soon begin the construction of the new power station’s water inlet and outfall tunnels. After arriving safely at the construction site by sea and road, the trio of tunnelling machines will soon be removing 370,000 cubic metres of earth to enable 3.3 kilometres of tunnels to be built underneath the seabed. The tunnels will carry seawater to cool the two reactors, the first of which will see first operation in 2025.
Bridgwater Mercury 14th Feb 2019 read more »