The boss of Hinkley Point C has blamed pandemic disruption after admitting the brand new nuclear energy station will begin working a 12 months later than deliberate and can price an additional £3bn.
French power firm EDF mentioned the primary reactor unit on the Somerset web site is now scheduled to begin working in June 2027, a 12 months later than deliberate, with prices estimated between £25bn and £26bn.
EDF mentioned this might not have an effect on the price to British shoppers or taxpayers. The prices might be met by EDF and China’s CGN, which is a junior accomplice within the mission.
In 2007, the then EDF chief Vincent de Rivaz predicted that by Christmas in 2017, turkeys could be cooked utilizing atomic energy from new reactors at Hinkley. When the mission was lastly given the inexperienced mild in 2016, it was estimated to price £18bn.
EDF mentioned it had misplaced greater than half one million days of important work in 2020 and 2021 because the pandemic had compelled a discount within the variety of employees allowed on the positioning.
Stuart Crooks, the managing director of Hinkley Point C, mentioned in a message on Thursday night: “You will all have experienced the severe impact of Covid-19 on the project over the last two years. You will remember how we suddenly had to cut numbers on site from more than 5,000 to around 1,500.
“For many months after that, we remained far below our plan for site numbers as our ability to fully ramp up activity was thwarted by the need for measures to prevent infection.
“Keeping workers safe with social distancing in canteens, buses and at work meant we had no choice but to become less efficient. In civil construction alone, having fewer people than planned means we lost in excess of half a million individual days of critical work in 2020 and 2021.
“Our supply chain was also hit hard and is still impacted now. In April 2020, 180 suppliers were fully shut down, but even as late as February this year, more than 60 suppliers were operating with reduced productivity due to Covid.”
Crooks mentioned that in January 2021, EDF estimated a six-month Covid impression, assuming an imminent return to regular situations, however the second wave of Covid-19 stopped that taking place.
“In total, the start date for Unit 1 has gone back 18 months since construction started in 2016. In such a complex project, it wouldn’t be credible to say we can measure exactly how much of this is due to Covid-19 impact, but it is clearly in excess of 12 months.”
Crooks additionally admitted labour shortages and rising inflation had hit the mission.
Tom Greatrex, chief govt of the Nuclear Business Affiliation, mentioned: “The Hinkley team have managed unprecedented challenges over the last two years to continue delivering Britain’s biggest ever green infrastructure project.”
The delay comes weeks after Boris Johnson pledged that one new nuclear plant a 12 months could be constructed within the UK. He mentioned nuclear energy was “absolutely crucial to weaning us off fossil fuels, including Russian oil and gas,” throughout a go to to Hartlepool’s nuclear energy station.
There are six nuclear energy crops within the UK, which give about 16% of the nation’s electrical energy.
EDF has additionally seen rising prices at its Flamanville 3 plant in France, which is greater than a decade behind its unique schedule. Three stations will retire by March 2024, and all however one will retire by 2028.
The power big hopes to assemble one other nuclear plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk utilizing the identical know-how as at Hinkley Point. Final week, a choice on whether or not to grant the plant planning permission due this month was delayed till 8 July.
Alison Downes of Suffolk marketing campaign group Cease Sizewell C mentioned: “Sizewell C is risky, expensive and in no one’s interest except EDF’s.”
Shares in EDF fell this week after it issued a revenue warning resulting from outages at its nuclear energy crops.