Photo courtesy EDF
Civil work estimated at $3.2 billion will proceed later this year if financing and permitting are put in place.


U.K. nuclear power ambitions took a big step forward with the 18 June award by French government-owned EDF Energy plc., London, of a roughly $3.2-billion civil work contract (£2b) at its planned new plant in Somerset. The award for the Hinkey Point C plant is conditional on EDF approving the investment later this year and securing necessary permits.

EDF has signed a preliminary contract to secure early involvement in the project's design and construction planning by the selected joint venture of Paris-based Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A, and the U.K.'s largest privately owned contractor Laing O’Rourke plc., Dartford.

The 3,260-MW proposed plant would include two French-built EPR reactors. The same reactor models are being built at the much- delayed powerplants at Olkiluoto, Finland, and Flamaville, France. Bouygues is handling civil work at both both plants under construction. If it goes ahead, Hinkley Point C would be the U.K.'s first new nuclear plant since size Sizewell B was ordered more than 20 years ago (ENR October 11, 1990 Pg. 30).

To develop the new plant EDF, which operates most of France's numerous reactors, has teamed up with the U.K.'s energy company Centrica plc., London. However, the future of joint venture's nuclear plans depends on energy price negotiations now taking place with the government, says EDF Energy's Chief Executive Officer Vincent de Rivaz.

“Agreeing the contract for difference is key,” says de Rivaz. “It means that we and government will have to be clear about our costs before we sign a contract for our project.” The contract for difference is one of the mechanisms proposed the U.K. government's current draft energy bill.

The contract would set guaranteed “strike” prices for power from non-fossil fuelled plants, providing long-term security for investors.