In May 2022 the cost of building the UK’s first nuclear power plant in a generation was put at £26bn, with a target date for completion of June 2027. Today the cost is estimated at between £31bn and £34bn, with completion not before 2029 and possibly not until 2031.
Those costs are all in 2015 prices. Adjusted for inflation, the new estimate could see costs hit £46bn in today’s prices, which represents an increase of about a third in less than two years – or nearly double the initial £18bn budget set in 2015.
Then impact of the Covid pandemic has added 18 months to the programme. Delays have also been caused by electromechanical works. New action plans are being drawn up that could see Hinkley Point C becoming operational in 2029 if all goes perfectly. However, a second scenario, which is considered the base case, assumes certain risks inherent in the ramp-up of the electromechanical work and the testing schedule do materialise. That would see Unit 1 operational in 2030.
“Finally, given the complexity of the project, an unfavourable scenario assuming a further 12-month risk materialises could lead to Unit 1 being operational in 2031,” EDF said.
In a letter to staff dated 23rd January 2024, Hinkley Point C managing director Stuart Crooks said: “Going first to restart the nuclear construction industry in Britain after a 20-year pause has been hard… Like other major infrastructure projects, we have found civil construction slower than we hoped and faced inflation, labour and material shortages, on top of Covid and Brexit disruption.”
He said: Looking ahead MEH (mechanical, electrical and heating) will accelerate rapidly this year with a fourfold increase in workers. The teams will set a benchmark for quality and installation rates, The completion of the detailed design and experience from other completed EPRs tells us that we will need more people and more time to get the work done than was anticipated. We now aim to have Unit One in operation around the end of the decade.
“Running the project longer will cost more money and our budget has also been affected by rising civil construction costs.”