Hinkley Point C cost estimate rises again

The UK’s landmark next-generation nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C has had a revised cost estimate, with £1.9bn-£2.9bn of additional spending predicted.

Hinkley C
The view south across the Hinkley Point C Construction Site showing the main excavations and pipework for the cooling water systems of unit 1

This will bring the overall cost of the project to between £21.5bn and £22.5bn. According to an EDF statement, the cost increases “reflect challenging ground conditions which made earthworks more expensive than anticipated, revised action plan targets and extra costs needed to implement the completed functional design, which has been adapted for a first-of-a-kind application in the UK context.”

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EDF also stated that the chances of delays on both units at the Somerset site had increased, with setbacks of 15 months on unit 1 and 9 months on unit 2 now more likely. In terms of where the project is currently, EDF said the nuclear island “common raft” for Hinkley C’s first unit was completed in June 2019, with the next major milestone of the common raft for unit 2 due to be finished by June 2020.

“The management of the project remains mobilised to begin generating power from unit 1 at the end of 2025,” read the statement. “To achieve this, operational action plans overseen by the project management are being put in place. These involve the EDF Group’s engineering teams in Great Britain and France, buildings and ancillary works contractors, and suppliers of equipment and systems throughout the supply chain.”

Paul Spence, EDF’s director of corporate and regulatory affairs, told the BBC: “We’ve given the best view we can, given what we know. I can’t say today what will happen over the course of the construction.”

The French energy giant said the delays and cost increases will have no direct impact on customers, with risks already priced into the Contract for Difference agreed with the UK government. However, the additional costs could put pressure on the financing for other planned nuclear new build projects, such as Sizewell C in Suffolk, which EDF is also leading.