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COVID-19 blamed as cost of Hinkley Point C nuclear plant rises again

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Completion of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant has been delayed further and the cost revised upwards by £500m, according to EDF Energy.

In an update on progress in construction of the UK’s first new nuclear power plant for a generation, the French energy firm said COVID-19 disruption had taken a toll on work schedules at the site in Somerset.

It was originally supposed to have started producing electricity – enough to power 7% of the country’s needs – from 2017 at a cost of £18bn.

Image:
The country’s largest crane, known as Big Carl, is in use at the Hinkley site in Somerset. Pic: Sarens

But it has endured repeated delays and cost increases.

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EDF said a review it had ordered in November last year estimated that generation would now be delayed by a further six months to June 2026.

The additional £500m cost put the construction estimate at between £22bn-£23bn, the company revealed.

EDF said: “Despite being affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, Hinkley Point C has made significant progress in 2020 on site, in the design execution plans and on the manufacturing of equipment”.

The project has been marred by rows over the cost to energy bill-payers and whether new nuclear should be part of the country’s energy mix.

Undated handout file image of an artists impression of a planned nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey in north Wales. Horizon Nuclear Power has announced it will be ceasing its activities to develop two projects in the UK following a decision by Japanese giant Hitachi to pull out of the scheme.
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Horizon’s planned Wylfa plant is among projects to have been suspended because of funding issues

It has, however, been supported by business groups, with the CBI arguing that the country can not rely on renewables – such as wind and solar – to secure a stable zero-carbon electricity network.

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The business lobby group has supported EDF’s ambition to build the planned Sizewell C in Suffolk – a replica of Hinkley Point C to keep costs down – as other projects fall by the wayside.

They include the Wylfa plant that was pencilled for Anglesey which collapsed due to financing concerns.

Shares in EDF were down 1.5% in early trading.

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