More delays at France’s newest nuclear power site

French electricity firm EDF announced new delays and cost overruns for its troubled new-generation nuclear plant in northern France on Wednesday as the Covid pandemic made the work more difficult.

More delays at France's newest nuclear power site
The Flamanville nuclear plant in northern France Photo: Lou Benoist/AFP

The heavily indebted group said that the plant at Flamanville on the Channel coast would not be loaded with fuel until the “second quarter of 2023”, instead of late 2022.

Projected costs had increased by another €300 million to €12.7 billion – around four times more than the initial forecast of €3.3 billion.

The new schedule and budget take into account “the progress of work and preparations for the start in an industrial context that has been made more difficult by the pandemic,” the state-controlled company said in a statement.

READ ALSO Why is France so obsessed with nuclear power?

The group has experienced multiple technical setbacks with the Flamanville plant, with the the national nuclear watchdog identifying problems with welding in 2019 which had to be redone.

The new-generation EPR plant at Flamanville is the only one under construction in France, but three others are in operation around the world: two in China and one in Finland.

EDF was also picked to build a two-reactor plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England in 2016, but this project too has been hit by delays and cost overruns.

Despite objections from some environmentalists, the French government is banking on new nuclear plants to hit its targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The country currently gets the bulk of its electricity – 70 percent – from 56 reactors spread across the country but many of them are coming to the end of their expected lifespans of 40 years.

If the reactor is loaded with fuel in Flamanville in the middle of next year, it would be expected to begin commercial operations around five or six months later.

The government has said a coal plant at Cordemais in western France will be allowed to operate until 2024 until the Flamanville site is brought online.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sweden to set world’s first consumption-based emissions target

Sweden political parties have unanimously backed the world's first consumption-based emissions target, with the country aiming to hit net zero by 2045.

Sweden to set world's first consumption-based emissions target

The committee responsible for setting Sweden’s environmental goals on Thursday presented its proposals for what goals Sweden should set for greenhouse has emissions linked to the country’s consumption. 

“No other country in the world has done what we have done,” Emma Nohrén, chair of the climate goals committee, said at a press conference announcing the goals. “There has been a pioneering sprit.” 

About 60 percent of the emissions caused by people living in Sweden are released in other countries producing goods to be consumed in Sweden, meaning Sweden’s production-based emissions goals, like those of other countries, arguably misrepresent Sweden’s impact.  

In a press statement, the government said that as well as the 2045 consumption emissions target, the committee has suggested setting targets for the climate impact of its exports, include emissions from flights and cargo ships in its long-term national climate goals, and aim to include emissions from internal flights in its target for domestic transport by 2030.  

The committee also proposes that emissions from goods and services ordered by the public sector should decline at a faster rate than those of the rest of the country. 

Amanda Palmstierna, an MP for the Green Party who sits on the committee, said it was positive that the new goals had the backing of all seven of Sweden’s parliamentary parties. 

“It’s important that all the parties are backing this proposal so that it can become implemented,” she said. “Significant action is required now. We have so little time, as we saw in the IPCC report which came out on Monday.”