EDF, the French electricity giant that has built and operated the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, has announced that the bill for the 1,650-MW, third-generation pressurised reactor known as EPR has now gone up to AFP €8.5 billion. At its inception, the reactor, designed by Areva of France, was expected to cost €3.3 billion.
This is bad news for India which is slated to buy six EPR reactors for a site in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. Initially expected to cost some €20 billion, the six EPRs India intends to buy will now be in the region of €50 billion — nearly Rs. 3,55,000 crore.
Delays and cost over-runs have marked the construction of the EPR in Flamanville, Manche, France. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) carried out an audit of the country’s nuclear installations and asked for several reinforcements and design changes. All these added to the price.
However, work on the reactor had been badly delayed and it is now expected to go on stream in 2016. Industry insiders predict that date will not be respected and there will be further cost overruns.
“The development of the boiler design, additional engineering studies, the integration of new regulatory requirements and everything learnt from Fukushima have also been taken into account,” EDF said in a statement.
There is not a single EPR that is working today. The reactor built in Olkilouto, Finland, by Siemens and Areva is also running four years behind schedule and has yet to begin operating. The reactor may start operating next year.
EDF has been rapped on the knuckles several times by the nuclear watchdog ASN for cutting corners, using shoddy materials, and employing workers who do not know their job. The Flamanville plant is the first reactor being built in France in nearly 20 years.
This article has been corrected for a factual error