Flamanville reactor overshadowing prospects for Hinkley Point C

Continuing difficulties with EDF’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) technology at a flagship plant in northern France are leading to doubts about the viability of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant across the English Channel in the UK.

More faults were highlighted in a leaked report on the Flamanville facility from the French nuclear safety regulator, adding to a warning in April about the reliability of the EPR’s reactor vessel.
Flamanville is already five years behind schedule and the UK’s Treasury is, according to the FT, worried about the technology’s capability for Hinkley Point C.

“I think there are serious questions about the technology,” one unnamed Treasury figure told the FT. “Only if that can be fixed is there a desire to go ahead with it . . . on balance.”

Other officials are, according to the paper, considering dropping EPR altogether in favour of a more reliable reactor type.

China’s President Xi Jinping has a state visit to Britain
and this is expected to help move the project to a more advanced phase. Before then, however, the Treasury must complete a review of Hinkley by its “major projects authority”. While officials expect it to get the green light, one said “it would be unwise to predict either way”.

The agreement with EDF by the British government stipulates that the French company’s shareholders are liable for the viability of the EPR technology until such time as the technology is proven.

“It’s pretty natural that the UK government would want to see that the technology actually works before going ahead,” said one person close to EDF’s Hinkley project based in Paris.

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