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Technical issues plaguing other current nuclear projects will be eliminated - EdF

Nuclear power plant developer EdF’s engineers are convinced that there will be no repeat of the delays and cost overruns that have plagued its other European new nuclear projects.


Olkiluoto: Finnish project has been plagued with delays and cost overruns

EdF head of design authority nuclear new build Steve Vaslet told NCE his team has been learning lessons - good and bad - from current projects to install the same reactors around the world for EdF.

“[Avoiding delays] is a key question for ourselves,” said Vaslet.

He cited EdF’s Taishan project in China’s Guangdong province, where the firm is building two of nuclear reactor firm Areva’s European Pressurised Reactors - the same reactor planned for Hinkley Point C.

“[In Taishan] the civil structures are to programme,” he said. “We have listened and learnt those lessons for that project. If they can do it we can do it.”

But despite Vaslet’s confidence, EdF’s two European new nuclear projects at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France are still behind programme.

Olkiluoto client Finnish energy firm Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) confirmed last month that the reactor would not begin generating electricity until 2016, five years later than originally planned (News last week).

EdF’s project in Flamanville was due to open in 2012 and cost €3.3bn (£2.6bn) but has been delayed for four years until 2016 with costs escalating to an estimated £6.9bn.

Problems with pouring concrete into the heavily congested steel reinforcement in the reactor buildings have been cited as one of the major reasons for delay on both projects.

Vaslet said he was working with main civils preferred bidder Laing O’Rourke/Bouygues to prevent that becoming an issue at Hinkley. The joint venture is working with EdF to develop mock-ups of the steel reinforcement to be used in the reactor buildings.

“History is littered with technical issues that were not perceived at the start,” he said.

Laing O’Rourke head of new nuclear Norman Haste told NCE last year that the firm hoped to use the latest in 3D and 4D technology to avoid delays.

He also said the firm would be looking to see which elements can be precast or prefabricated (NCE 29 November 2012).

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