French electrical agency EDF has said its much-postponed plan for a reactor in Normandy of the same kind as those earmarked for construction in the UK has come under fire from France’s nuclear watchdog.
An Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire source accused the French state-run utility of delaying the disclosure that at least 33 welds at the European pressurised reactor (EPR) under construction in Flamanville (pictured) were substandard and needed to be repaired for around €400 million.
EDF said troubles it had encountered at Flamanville would help to smooth the construction of two other EPRs at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The group’s chief executive, Simone Rossi, said construction of the follow-up project to the Hinkley Point C could begin within the next three years.
“We need to remain humble and take things step by step,” Rossi said.
The UK wing of the French state-owned nuclear operator has not signed off on further financing for the Sizewell C site in the southeastern English county of Suffolk after repeated criticism of the Hinkley Point C agreement.
Rossi said construction was expected to start in late 2021, using experience gained from the Hinkley project in Somerset in western England.
Falling renewable energy costs are increasingly raising questions about the project’s overall wisdom.
EDF said this week that protests could hit its coal power stations in France until next June due to the legislative process that would lead to the adoption of France’s long-term energy policy.
The government in Paris is expected to present a draft of the plan at the end of October.
The plan will probably forecast when France intends to phase out its remaining coal-power generation, reduce its dependence on nuclear power and boost renewables to fill any gaps. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to close all France’s environmentally ruinous coal power stations before 2022.
EDF said the protests could be seen at its Cordemais 4 and Cordemais 5 coal-fired sites, which each have 580-megawatt (MW) capacity, and the 580MW Le Havre 4.
France, which depends on nuclear power for over 75 per cent of its electricity needs, has axed most of its coal power stations. Only five power stations with an installed capacity of approximately 3 GW are currently operating.
Flamanville. Picture credit: Wikimedia