Electricite de France has announced that the schedule for construction of the EPR reactor at unit 3 of its Flamanville NPP has been further delayed and that its estimated cost has also increased. EDF said nuclear fuel loading is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2024 – postponed from the second half of 2023. The estimated cost of completion is now put at €13.2 billion ($14bn), up from the previous estimate of €12.7 billion. EDF said the revisions are mainly due to additional studies needed to establish a new process for the stress-relieving heat treatment of some welds that have had to be upgraded in the last two years.

This comes just a few days after a recent announcement by Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) that the EPR at unit 3 of Finland’s Olkluoto NPP (OL3) is also faces additional delays pending completion of investigations into damage to supply water pumps. Both plants are more than a decade behind their original schedule and significantly over budget. The 1600MWe Flamanville 3 EPR, which started construction in December 2007, was originally expected to cost €3bn and to be ready in four years. Construction of OL3 began in 2005 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2009. The cost of Olkiluoto-3 was initially put at €3.2bn, but in 2012 Areva estimated the overall cost at €8.5bn.

The EPR under construction at the UK’s Hinkley Point C NPP (HPC) is also facing delays and cost overruns. Construction of HPC began in December 2018 and unit 1 was originally scheduled to start up by the end of 2025. In May, EDF announced the start of electricity generation for HPC 1 is now expected in June 2027 with project completion costs estimated at GBP25-26 billion.

The only two EPR reactors in operation are at China’s Taishan NPP in Guangdong province – both constructed with significant Chinese participation. Construction of Taishan 1 began in 2009, followed by unit 2 in 2010. The EPRs entered commercial operation in December 2018 and September 2019, some five years behind schedule.

France said earlier this year that it preparing legislation to reduce red tape related to nuclear power projects and aims to start construction of its first next-generation EPR2 reactor before May 2027. President Emmanuel Macron announced plans in February to build at least six EPR2 reactors, as well as the possibility of eight additional reactors, with a first project from 2028 and initial commissioning by 2035. The EPR2 is a third-generation design produced by Framatome and EDF. It is an “optimised” version of the original EPR. France currently is offering its EPR for construction in Slovakia and India. It recently lost a tender for Poland’s first NPP which was awarded to US Westinghouse.