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Hinkley Point C start-up in 2025 “realistic” – Framatome CEO

06 Sept 2018 15:51

06 Sept 2018 15:51

(Montel) The start-up of the UK’s first European pressurised reactor (EPR) at Hinkley Point C in 2025 is feasible, the CEO of the French nuclear group Framatome said on Thursday.

“For us, the 2025 start-up is realistic. We have started the production of the equipment and it is progressing well,” Bernard Fontana told Montel on the sidelines of a nuclear conference in London.

Parts for the two 1.6 GW EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset in England will be provided by Framatome (formerly Areva) and the Japanese firm The Japan Steel Works, with Framatome  supplying the nuclear boiler and equipping and assembling the vessel and steam generators.

Meanwhile, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of nuclear development at EDF Energy, confirmed that the plant, based in the southwest of the UK, was on schedule, with 3,100 people working at the site.

It was unlikely that delays experienced in the commissioning of the first new generation three EPR reactors in France, China and Finland would occur at Hinkley Point C, said Cadoux-Hudson.

"Learning lessons"

“Although [the first EPRs] are a parent design, we have been busy learning the lessons through commissioning and construction process of [the Chinese] EPR Taishan,” he told Montel on the sidelines of the conference.

Start-ups of the EPR at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland, which had been scheduled to begin production in 2012 and 2009, respectively, have been repeatedly delayed due to various technical problems.

And when the French firm signed the Hinkley Point deal with the UK government in 2012, Vincent de Rivaz, the CEO of EDF Energy at the time, said UK households would be cooking their Christmas turkeys with electricity generated at the reactor in 2017.  

In July, EDF said manufacturing defects on the pipe welding of the Flamanville’s main secondary system would force the group to delay the unit’s commercial launch by at least a year to the end of 2019.

However, the welding issue at the French EPR was unlikely to have any impact on Hinkley Point C, Cadoux-Hudson said.

“[Welds at the EPR Flamanville] are a construction, rather than design issue. Olkiluoto did not have this problem, so we need to study the differences between Flamanville and Olkiluoto to make sure [the flaws do] do not happen at Hinkley Point C,” he said.

“It’s one of the great benefits of coming behind other people, because we have the time to study and make sure we improve.”

Framatome was formed on 4 January when Areva was sold off following its bankruptcy. It is owned by French utility EDF, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Assystem.  

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