When will EDF make a final decision about UK EPRs?

15 September 2010

At a supplier event on 13 September, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz confirmed that the company's first UK EPR project at Hinkley Point, Somerset, remains on track for a 2018 start-up.

EPRI study on OLM
Cutaway of the Areva EPR

But despite spending GBP 50 million on preparatory works contracts, the company has yet to make a final decision to go ahead with the project, executives confirmed. Furthermore it remains unclear when exactly that decision will be made. When asked about the commercial decision, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of the utility's nuclear new-build organisation, said: "No formal decision will be made until we start building; we need to watch developments over the next few months to making right progress. It would be ridiculous to make the decision before we had a final engineering approval; it would be ridiculous before we had a site licence. And it would be ridiculous to do so before putting into place market reforms...that we need to make sure that the market works properly as we develop low-carbon energy in the UK; we have spoken about the need for a floor price for carbon."

The generic engineering approvals for the EPR and AP1000 are expected to finish broadly in June 2011. EDF executives also said that by that point they would also have submitted the main site licence application for Hinkley Point; main earthworks are also scheduled to start in 2011. (The other twin-EPR site, at Sizewell in Suffolk, is staggered about two years behind Hinkley Point). Also next year, EDF staff working at the Taishan EPR project in China, and from the EPR construction sites at Flamanville 3 would travel to the UK to help educate staff about the construction process. EDF aims to pour first concrete at Hinkley Point two years later in 2013.

In terms of market reform, the UK coalition government stated earlier this year that it would act to raise the price of carbon traded in the Euro ETS scheme; the currently traded price is generally estimated to be too low to make the investment required. Vince Cable, UK secretary of state for the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, estimated that EDF would invest GBP19.7 for the four EPRs at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. EDF CEO Vincent de Rivaz said that a government consultation reviewing a carbon price floor mechanism would launch in autumn. He also said that government work on energy market reform would begin in the first half of 2011.

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