Further delay to Flamanville EPR start up

19 December 2022

The loading of fuel into the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor in France has been put back again by at least six more months, with the estimated cost at completion increasing by a further EUR500 million (USD530 million), EDF has announced.

Flamanville (Image: EDF)

In a 16 December update, EDF said fuel loading - previously scheduled for the second quarter of 2023 - is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.

The company said the latest delay is "mainly due to supplementary studies that were needed to establish a new process for the stress-relieving heat treatment (SRHT) of some welds that have been upgraded in the last two years, which are located close to sensitive equipment for the nuclear plant functioning."

SRHT is a process carried out after welding to relieve residual welding stresses and achieve the right mechanical characteristics for the welded part.

"The teams have now moved on to the final stage of the stress-relieving heat treatment of the upgraded welds and to the stage of closing the main secondary circuit," EDF added.

The company also announced that the estimated cost at completion for the plant has increased from EUR12.7 billion to EUR13.2 billion.

It is the latest in a series of delays to the project in Normandy in northern France, which was originally expected to begin operating commercially in 2013.

EDF said further strategic achievements in the pre-operation phase of the Flamanville EPR have been made over the past few months. These include the completion of the complex work of upgrading the main secondary circuit penetration welds, which have been deemed compliant with break preclusion concept. It said these first-of-their-kind operations were achieved using remotely operated equipment and required more than twelve months of analyses and qualification prior to implementation at Flamanville. System performance testing of electrical equipment and fuel loading operations have been completed and deemed compliant with requirements.

Units 1 and 2 of China's Taishan plant were the first two reactors based on the EPR design to begin operating. The reactors entered commercial operation in December 2018 and September 2019, respectively. In Europe, the Olkiluoto 3 EPR in Finland was connected to the grid on 12 March this year and is scheduled to enter regular electricity generation in the coming months. Two EPRs are under construction at Hinkley Point C in the UK, currently slated for commercial operation in 2027 (unit 1) and 2028 (unit 2).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News