Investors shun UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear project

Courtesy: Financial Times

Delays and cost overruns that have dogged two nuclear reactors being built in France and Finland have deterred investors from joining a £24bn project to build a plant at Hinkley Point.

French utility EDF is in advanced talks with two Chinese partners — China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation — over their final shares of construction spending and roles in the building of up to three nuclear plants in the UK. An agreement could be reached this year.

But Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF chief executive, told Les Echos, the French financial daily newspaper, that it had been unable to secure the support of other investors after persistent problems with the proposed European pressurised reactor design.

“For third parties observing the announcements of delays and cost overruns for the EPRs under construction, it is difficult to commit,” he said, adding that the Chinese “still have confidence in the EPR, like us”.

EDF said this month it had drawn up a “new road map” that envisaged the first loading of fuel and start-up of its next generation plant, at Flamanville, in the fourth quarter of 2018, a year later than previously projected.

The Flamanville plant, the first to be built in France for 15 years, was originally expected to be in operation in 2012.

Europe’s other EPR plant in Finland is also years late and billions over budget, raising concerns about the technology.

A leaked report from France’s nuclear safety watchdog in June highlighted faults in Flamanville’s cooling system.

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