EDF said in a statement that a review of the UK's Hinkley Point C NPP project, is now unlikely to be operational before 2030, with the overall cost revised to £31-34bn ($39-43bn). It was previously expected to be completed in 2027 at a cost of up to £26bn.

Hinkley Point C, when complete, will comprise two 1,630 MWe EPR reactors supplied by EDF. Construction began in December 2018, but the project has faced delay challenges. In May 2022 EDF, following an earlier review of the project, confirmed that the plant would begin operating a year later than planned and could cost up to £3bn more than the £23bn originally budgeted. This had put the start date for unit 1 at June 2027, with the cost estimated at £25-26bn.

EDF said the aim was now to bring unit 1 into service "around the end of the decade". It suggested three scenarios, with the first envisaging unit 1 being operational in 2029, based on a target productivity for the electro-mechanical work. The second "base case" scenario assumes some risks in the electro-mechanical work and the testing schedule for operation in 2030. The third scenario sees a further 12 month delay to 2031.

In a message to staff at the site, Hinkley Point C Managing Director Stuart Crooks said the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a 15 month delay to the project. He noted that the dome at unit 1 had been installed two years later than planned. “Around 15 months of that was due to the global pandemic. So beyond COVID we lost nine months since we began. That’s not perfect, but for the first nuclear plant to be built in Britain for a generation, it’s not bad either.”

He added: "Going first to restart the nuclear construction industry in Britain after a 20-year pause has been hard. Relearning nuclear skills, creating a new supply chain and training a workforce has been an immense task which others will benefit from for decades to come. Like other infrastructure projects we have found civil construction slower than we hoped and faced inflation, labour and material shortages on top of COVID and Brexit disruption.

He said the good news is that much of that pioneering work to rebuild the industry is done. “Once we learn how, we see performance improve by 20-30% when we repeat work on our identical unit two. Innovation is making a difference too. For example, new welding techniques mean we can now weld a metre on our steel pools in one hour instead of four. Building and repeating an identical design is the key to success – the evidence is clear."

He noted that 70% of equipment had been delivered for unit 1, and "many risks are behind us, like the unique British instrument and control system which has been designed and manufactured, with testing under way". He added: "We had to substantially adapt the EPR design to satisfy British regulations, requiring 7000 changes, adding 35% more steel and 25% more concrete. This adaptation and approval process is the same for other developers bringing new designs into Britain. Now the design of our UK plant is complete in detail meaning contractors have certainty over exactly what is needed to build the plant." He stressed that the costs were being met entirely by shareholders.

Image courtesy of EDF