George Osborne visits the delayed Taishan plant
George Osborne visits the delayed Taishan plant

Construction on EDF’s two nuclear reactors in Taishan, China – intended as models for the planned new power plant at Hinkley – has been delayed, again, amidst new safety fears.

The latest delay to the flagship project, announced by China’s nuclear regulator, comes as the French state-owned utility  again put back making a decision on its investment in the UK.

The UK project, at Hinkley point in Somerset, is due to use the same reactor design and be built by the same Franco-Chinese partnership as the Taishan plant.

“We have to figure out all the problems, and then undertake further follow-up works.” – Chinese regulator

But the only other similar reactors in France and Finland have already encountered massive delays and cost overruns.

Cracks

Last year, French safety authorities reported that a possible manufacturing defect at the Flamanville nuclear project might lead to cracks spreading through the main nuclear reactor vessel.

“The construction of the Taishan nuclear power plant and the construction of the EPR unit is slightly delayed,” said Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority on Wednesday.

“We have to figure out all the problems, and then undertake further follow-up works.”

Despite the latest set-back the embattled utility still hopes the Chinese plant will be ready before plants in Finland and France – which started earlier.

When asked when the first Taishan reactor would be ready, EDF executive Herve Machenaud told Reuters “in principle” at the end of the year.

Areva declined an invitation to comment. A request for comment is outstanding with EDF.

Our sources:

South China Morning Post

Bloomberg