Hinkley Point C, the new nuclear power station in Somerset, will open later than expected and will cost £500m more than previously thought. French energy firm EDF said it had made “significant progress” at the Bridgwater site despite the impact of coronavirus and lockdown restrictions. The plant is due to open in June 2026 and not in 2025 as planned and will cost between £22bn and £23bn.
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The Covid-19 pandemic could delay construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor by six months and raise its costs by £500m, according to its developer. The fresh delays are expected to take the cost of the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation to £23bn, EDF Energy said, and put back its launch to the summer of 2026.
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Electricity producer and supplier EDF announced on Wednesday that the start of electricity production by Unit 1 at the UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant had been postponed to June 2026. The start-up of Unit 1 was initially scheduled for the end of 2025. This adjustment follows a detailed review of the schedule and costs intended to measure the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic to date, EDF explained in a press release. In this context, the costs at the end of the project are now estimated between 22 billion and 23 billion pounds sterling 2015 (a pound then worth 1.23 euros), said EDF. In September 2019, EDF estimated these costs between £ 21.5 billion and £ 22.5 billion in 2015. The group has already raised its cost estimate on several occasions. The forecast rate of return, or IRR, for EDF has therefore been reestimated between 7.1% and 7.2%, on the basis of an exchange rate of 1.13 euro for a pound sterling, against a previous estimate. between 7.6% and 7.8% with an exchange rate of 1.15 euro to one pound sterling. In addition, EDF indicated that the risk of postponing delivery of Units 1 and 2 at Hinkley Point C was maintained at 15 and nine months respectively. “The realization of this risk would induce a potential additional cost of around 0.7 billion pounds sterling 2015. In this case, the IRR for EDF would be reduced by 0.3%”, added EDF.
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In a message to employees, Hinkley Point C managing director Stuart Crooks said: “Ten months after it began, we are still facing the full force of the pandemic. “Even though experience has allowed us to increase numbers on site during the pandemic from below 2,000 to more than 5,000, social distancing requirements still limit the number of people we can safely have on site at any one time.” Crooks added that “a longer construction period also adds some cost — as does the reduced efficiency of operating a site for a long period under Covid-19 conditions”. He emphasised that the ambition to lift the first dome on Unit One by the end of 2022 “remains unchanged”, and said the project is experiencing “a health crisis, not a problem with construction”. EDF added that even with the pandemic, “significant progress” has been made in 2020 in the project’s design execution plans and on the manufacturing of equipment.
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