EDF Energy said 17 January that the Hinkley C NPP in the UK would come online by the end of 2025. The plant, which is expected to provide 7% of UK power, will have two Areva-designed EPR reactors.

“We are confident we can deliver this timeline as our project at Hinkley Point C benefits from innovative tools and the lessons from other (nuclear reactor) projects,” EDF Energy’s new CEO, Simone Rossi, told a briefing at the plant site, in his first major public speech.

EDF Energy will start building plant structures above ground by June 2019, after the foundations are completed for unit 1.

Hinkley C, being built jointly by EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corp, has been faced with delays and was initially expected to start producing electricity in 2017. It has also suffered criticism over its cost and the guaranteed price for electricity, which is higher than market rates. In 2017, EDF increased the cost estimate to £19.6bn ($27bn) from GBP 18bn after a review. EPR reactors, under construction in France and Finland, are facing long delays and cost overruns.

EDF and CGN also plan to build two EPR reactors at Sizewell C in eastern England. Rossi said construction costs for Sizewell could be cut based on the experience gained in building Hinkley and adapting the EPR reactor design to meet UK regulatory requirements. The capital cost of Sizewell C could be 20% less than Hinkley, Rossi said.  "Hinkley Point C has eight emergency generators. They had to be designed and certified to meet the standards required for nuclear safety. That means the first two will cost £38m, but the next six will be half the price. At Sizewell, none of that development or certification work needs to be done again.” Moreover, the Sizewell site already has a grid connection, which will cut costs.

 Rossi added that EDF is in discussion with the government about alternative financing models for Sizewell C, and has been talking to pension funds and financial institutions as potential third-party investors. Direct government finance may not be needed, he noted, but there should be a guaranteed price for electricity. As yet there is no timeline for Sizewell, but construction work could overlap with Hinkley Point C, Rossi said.

Photo: Work on the basemat for Hinkley Point C unit 1 (Credit: EDF Energy)