The start-up of the Flamanville EPR still postponed to 2023

The new generation nuclear reactor which is to be commissioned at Flamaville in La Manche has been postponed again, seeing its cost increase once again (archive photo taken on the EPR construction site in 2016).

NUCLEAR – An eternal sea serpent. EDF announced on Wednesday January 12 new delays and additional costs for the new generation EPR nuclear reactor under construction in Flamanville, in La Manche, the start of which is postponed until next year, due to including the covid-19 pandemic.

“The fuel loading date is postponed from the end of 2022 to the second quarter of 2023. The estimate of the cost at completion goes from 12.4 billion euros to 12.7 billion”, indicates the group in a press release.

Backlash for the French strategy

Under construction since 2007, the EPR has accumulated disappointments, with a recent major problem with welds.

The new schedule announced on Wednesday takes into account “the state of progress of operations and preparation for start-up in an industrial context made more difficult by the pandemic”, explains EDF.

The announcement comes as France prepares to launch a new nuclear reactor construction program, as announced by President Emmanuel Macron on November 9.

Difficulties also in China

However, the Ministry of Ecological Transition, headed by Barbara Pompili, wanted to be reassuring after the announcement of new difficulties on Wednesday. “The government will be vigilant that EDF learns the lessons of the various delays experienced by this site in order to improve its industrial process,” the ministry told AFP.

The Flamanville EPR is currently the only one built in France. Three EPR reactors have already started operating around the world: two in China, in Taishan, and one in Finland.

In July, an incident led to the shutdown of one of these EPR reactors in Taishan. EDF explains Wednesday that it has suffered “a phenomenon of mechanical wear of certain assembly components” and that this “does not call into question the EPR model”.

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