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EDF insists Hinkley 'on track' despite French reactor delays

Delays to EDF’s €11bn (£9.8bn) nuclear plant in northern France will have no impact on Hinkley Point C’s construction timeline, the company has insisted.

The French energy giant, which is building both plants, said Hinkley remained “on track” and the welding issues that have hit its Flamanville project in Normandy would not affect the Somerset scheme’s programme.

The comments came after EDF revealed that nuclear fuel would not be loaded at Flamanville until late 2019, a year later than previous scheduled.

EDF also confirmed the delays would increase the cost of the scheme by €400m (£355m).

The delays were attributed to welding issues linked to the project’s EPR reactor, the same reactor being used at Hinkley.

Of the 148 welds inspected at the plant, 33 had quality deficiencies and would need to be repaired.

A spokesman for EDF said: “The construction of Hinkley Point C remains on track.

“The project has already benefited and will continue to learn from the experience of other projects.”

The welding is the the latest issue to delay the opening of the French plant, which was originally expected to generate power in 2012.

The delays have seen costs soar, with Flamanville now set to cost €10.9bn (£9.8bn) – nearly three times the €3.3bn (£2.93bn) budget set out prior to 2012.

Many of the subsequent delays have been linked to the EPR reactor.

EDF has had issues with its reactor across the globe, with other schemes also running into problems.

The Olkiluoto plant in Finland, which is also using the EPR, is expected to start generating electricity in the second half of next year, a decade later than first planned.

The project is running nearly €7bn (£6.22bn) over budget.

The Taishan plant in southern China is currently the only plant where the EPR is successfully generating power.

Last year EDF raised the cost estimate for Hinkley to £19.6bn and warned the opening of the plant could be delayed until 2027.

However, the developer now insists it will hit its start date of 2025.

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