The EDF Group said on 24 March that the "first key milestone" had been completed at the 1,600MWe European pressurised water reactor (EPR) under construction at unit 3 of the Flammanville NPP in Normandy, with the installation and assembly of four steam generators, the reactor pressure vessel, the pressuriser and primary pumps. This "marks the achievement set for the first quarter of 2016, in compliance with the schedule updated over the summer of 2015", EDF said.

"Quality inspections performed demonstrated that all assembly operations fulfil the expected requirements," EDF said. "Only one weld out of the 32 performed on the primary circuit has to be reworked to ensure compliance." EDF said construction is continuing at "a sustained pace" towards the second milestone "as electromechanical erection accelerates and plant system test phases start (system by system)".

System performance testing is planned for 2017. Under a revised construction schedule announced last year, EDF said the first fuel loading and start-up of Flamanville 3 is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018 – a year later than specified in an earlier revised schedule.

Work at the site of the EPR started in December 2007. The unit had originally been scheduled to start up in 2012. The start-up schedule was later revised to 2016. However, in 2014 EDF said operations were expected to begin in 2017. Costs of the project have also risen sharply. EDF said following an assessment of "all the industrial and financial parameters" project costs had been revised to €10.5bn ($11.7bn). An estimate released in July 2011 was €8bn. When construction work began in 2007, capital construction costs were estimated at €3.3bn.

A new organizational structure has been implemented at the project organization in order to improve construction site management until commissioning of the unit, EDF said. This new structure is centred on streamlined management reporting directly to EDF senior executive vice president in charge of new nuclear projects and engineering, Xavier Ursat, and to EDF chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy. New contractual frameworks have also been agreed with key suppliers, EDF said.

Lévy said, "I have reviewed the Flamanville EPR project in detail, and I am absolutely confident that it will be a success. It is a priority for EDF and of critical importance for the French nuclear industry and its success internationally. Our teams and those of our partners, particularly Areva, are working to complete this project together in compliance with the most stringent nuclear and industrial safety standards." He added, "All of the experience gained at Flamanville will be invaluable for other EPR projects, such as Hinkley Point."

EPRs are also under construction at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland (similarly delayed and over-budget) and at units 1 and 2 of the Taishan NPP in China. Olkiluoto 3 has been under construction since 2005 and has seen several revisions to its start-up date, which is now expected by 2018. Taishan 1, which has been under construction since 2009, is expected to start up in 2016, while Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operating a year later.