Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF’s chief executive has confirmed that the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been delayed and will not start generating power in 2023 as planned.

The latest delay raises the prospect that Hinkley may now in fact be overtaken by other proposed British nuclear power projects with far quicker build times.
Jean-Bernard Levy
Levy said he had “full confidence in the success of the Hinkley Point project” but gave no date for when the £24.5 billion power station might now start generating electricity.

In 2013 the company announced a planned starting year of 2023.

Although a final investment decision (FID) is now expected in October during the visit of the Chinese premier, Mr Levy admitted the 2023 start date for the project, which will be subsidised by households through their energy bills, would no longer be met.

“Even though the final investment decision has been pushed back from the initial forecasts, the construction time will stay the same, which means that the commissioning date will be updated at the point when FID is made,” he said.

Levy added that the final investment decision would be based on solely EDF and Chinese investment, after failing to tie up deals with any other potential investment partners in time.

He said: “The final investment decision that we’re preparing is well-advanced and includes EDF’s partners and Chinese partners. They will constitute the roundtable at the time FID is done although this does not mean that we will not open it to other partners later. But in order to have speed, in the first phase EDF and the Chinese will be the investors at the final investment decision.”

Hinkley Point was once supposed to be ready in time for Christmas 2017 but has suffered numerous delays and setbacks.

Fears have grown that the project will suffer a similar fate to that of EDF’s troubled Flamanville reactor in France, which uses the same technology as proposed for Hinkley.

Flamanville was originally due to cost €3bn and be ready by 2012 but has seen costs spiral. On Thursday EDF said Flamanville would now not start generating until 2018, a year later than the most recent estimates, and would cost €10.5bn.

Sources insisted the delay to the Hinkley decision was unrelated to issues at Flamanville.

The EPR, or European Pressurised Reactor, to be used, is a new-generation pressurised water reactor, built to resist the impact of a commercial airline crash. It has been widely criticised as too big and too expensive and Areva has been forced to book billions of euros in provisions due to cost overruns.

Similar to his statement on Hinkley Point C Lévy said he remained “absolutely confident” that Flamanville would be a success.

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