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Further expenditure for France’s Flamanville nuclear plant

French state-controlled utility EDF has had to further increase spending on its long-delayed Flamanville-3 nuclear power station because of the need to repair faulty welds.

According to a statement from the company, the cost of the project has been revised upward by €1.5bn – bringing its total price tag to €12.4bn. EDF had previously planned to load fuel into the new reactor this year and begin commercial activity in 2020. However, fuel loading is now scheduled to begin in 2022. 

The power station – which is one of three European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) currently being built in the EU – was supposed to cost €3.3bn and begin generating power in 2012. However, the project has been subject to a series of delays after the French nuclear watchdog, ASN, identified various issues with its design.

EDF has said that it intends to deploy remotely operated robots to carry out the weld repairs and have ASN validate the work before the end of next year. 

Two EPRs – China's Taishan 1 and 2 – are currently in operation across the world. The two under construction in Europe are the UK’s Hinkley Point C – which has recently had its own cost estimates revised upward by £2.9bn – and Finland’s Olkiluoto 3, which is running more than a decade behind schedule.

However, the latter’s owner, TVO, announced in October that the fuel loading process is to begin in January 2020. According to TVO, this technically simple procedure marks the most important step in the project’s development to date. But before fuel can be loaded, 200 tests for commissioning must still be passed, as do tests of fire safety and data systems.

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