US Nuclear Power Station Took 43 Years to Finish

hinckley

As news breaks that the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point could cost an additional £3 billion, a smaller story from the US serves as a stark warning of the risks when building new plants.

Watts Bar nuclear power plant’s second reactor is scheduled to finally go into operation this summer. This project has taken 43 years, with shifting regulations, unsure demand and spiralling costs all helping to create a stop-start pantomime.

There has been criticism about the decision to build an EPR reactor at Hinkley Point, seen as overly expensive and previously dogged by severe delays – Finland cancelled their new EPR reactor last year after the project had gone over budget and schedule, France saw the cost of one such project nearly treble, and China is facing significant delays on the construction of its own EPRs. In fact, since the first order was placed in 2003, not one of French company Areva’s EPR plants have been completed: of the three EPR reactor projects signed up to so far, one is delayed, one is delayed and over budget, and the other is cancelled. These are the reactors Britain will likely be lumbered with…

News of these delays, and the lessons from America, should be of concern to DECC. Having already signed up to the most generous nuclear subsidy package in history, there is a real danger that Hinkley Point C becomes a mega-watt white elephant. French company EDF has refused to sign on the dotted line until summer. There is still time for a strategic re-think…




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