EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will be delayed by a further six months due to disruption from COVID-19.
The plant – the only new nuclear facility under construction in the UK currently – was set to start generating from its Unit 1 at the end of 2025, but having reviewed the schedule and cost impact of the pandemic so far, the French energy giant has pushed this back to June 2026.
Costs are expected to now be in the range of £22 billion to £23 billion, an increase of about half a billion from the range announced in September 2019 of between £21.5 billion and £22.5 billion. This itself was an increase of between £1.9 and £2.9 billion on previous estimates.
This puts the projected rate of return for the project between 7.1% and 7.2%, a drop from between 7.6% and 7.8% in September 2019. In July 2017, EDF said the IRR stood at between 8.5% and 9%.
The risk of deferral in the delivery (COD) delay for both Unit 1 and 2 is maintained at 15 and 9 months respectively, added EDF.
Hinkley Point C is the only nuclear power station under construction in the UK currently, with all but one of the nation's 15 reactors currently running expected to close by 2030. At the site in Somerset, EDF is constructing two reactors that will have a capacity of 3,260MWe when complete.
Due to the numerous cost and delay increases however, Hinkley Point C has been a point of particular contention in the UK’s energy sector.
EDF submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for another nuclear project in the UK in May 2020, its Sizewell C nuclear reactor. The 3.2GW nuclear plant will be constructed in Suffolk as a near-replica of the Hinkley Point C plant, but with lessons learnt from Hinkley to streamline the project, EDF has stated.
No other nuclear plant in the UK is at a significant stage of development currently after Hitachi abandoned its plans for the 2.9GW Wylfa Newydd nuclear project in September 2020 due to the changed investment environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
EDF is currently focusing on lifting the Unit 1 dome into place at Hinkley Point C by the end of 2022.