Admission puts 2017 completion date in doubt after post-Fukushima nuclear review

EDF will lay out a revised timetable for completion of its first UK nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, in the autumn, the energy giant said this week.
Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF chief executive, said: “We will give an adjusted timetable this autumn.” The company has been reviewing its plans in the light of the interim findings of nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s report after the Fukushima disaster, but had not previously conceded this may affect the 2017 completion target.

De Rivaz made the admission after praising the government’s “strong leadership” in ensuring the UK’s energy needs are not knocked off course by the Fukushima disaster.

The UK is open for business for nuclear investment

Charles Hendry, energy minister

He said the government had boosted confidence with its response, which was “telling compared with other countries”.

The government has been criticised for having a cosy relationship with the nuclear industry after the Guardian newspaper uncovered emails from civil servants to energy companies proposing a joined-up PR response to Fukushima.

But Mark Higson, head of the Office for Nuclear Development, rejected the claims. “Contrary to what the Guardian may say, we take the outcomes of Fukushima very seriously,” he said.

Speaking at the Nuclear New Build conference in London, de Rivaz said: “Post-Fukushima there will be improvements that will make us safer.”
EDF’s endorsement will come as a relief to the government, which has pushed back the timetable for assessment of reactor designs to take account of the Weightman report on Fukushima.

The three clients charged with building the plants, EDF, NuGen and Horizon, told delegates they felt the government’s response was proportionate.
Energy minister Charles Hendry also used the conference platform to back UK nuclear growth.

He said: “The UK wants to be a serious nuclear nation again. I want a message to go around the world: the UK is open for business for nuclear investment.”

The nuclear clients also issued updated new build timetables. EDF announced a third planning consultation based on material changes to its original plans, Horizon said it would apply for development consent in 2013 and NuGen said it would make a final investment decision in 2015.