Electricite de France (EDF) said on 8 January it had completed cold-functional tests for Flamanville 3, under construction in northern France. System performance testing began in the first quarter of 2017 to check and test operation of all the systems of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR).

The tests included a leak performance test on the reactor coolant system at a pressure higher than 240 bar – significantly exceeding the normal operating pressure. More than 500 welds were inspected, supervised by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). Hot functional testing of the 1600MWe unit is scheduled to begin in July. EDF said fuel loading and start-up of the reactor is expected in the last quarter of 2018.

Construction of the Flamanville EPR began in December 2007 with planned completion in 2012 and commercial operation in 2013. It was rescheduled to 2017 following the discovery of flaws in the steel reactor pressure vessel, forcing the manufacturer Areva to carry out additional tests. The project had already been delayed several years owing to problems with suppliers and new safety requirements following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

EDF has confirmed its roadmap for the Flamanville 3 project drawn up in September 2015, with fuel loading and startup of the reactor at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018. It also confirmed the project cost is set at €10.5bn (at the 2015 rate, excluding interim interest) up from an initial budget of €3bn.