French energy supplier EDF has said this week that the cost of completing the new Hinkley Point nuclear plant near Burnham-On-Sea will be nearly 10% more than expected.
The company, which is the project’s main backer, said on Monday (July 3rd) that the total cost of the power station was likely to rise by £1.5bn to £19.6bn.
An EDF review found the project could also be delayed by up to 15 months. The firm says that would result in an extra £700m in costs, but that it hoped to avoid delays and finish the first nuclear reactor by the end of 2025.
Climate campaigners said Hinkley Point was “already over time and over budget” even thpough its only nine months since it was approved.
EDF is building two new reactors at Hinkley Point, which are set to provide 7% of the country’s electricity needs for 60 years.
EDF said the extra costs are partly resulting from adapting the project’s design to meet the demands of UK regulators.
The French state-controlled energy firm is funding two-thirds of the plant, which is expected to create more than 25,000 jobs, with China investing the rest.
A government spokeswoman said: “Consumers won’t pay a penny until Hinkley is built; it will provide clean, reliable electricity powering six million homes.”
The cost of building Hinkley Point, including any overruns, will be met by EDF and the other backers said the spokeswoman, but critics argue that customers will ultimately pay through higher energy bills.
John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, told the BBC: “Hinkley is already over time and over budget after just a few months of building work. The news is yet another damning indictment of the government’s agreement to go ahead with this project.”
EDF says it remains on track to meet the project’s first major milestone in 2019 but that delays could come later in the project.
Last month, public auditors called the new nuclear plant “risky and expensive” after the National Audit Office said the government had “increasingly emphasised Hinkley Point C’s unquantified strategic benefits, but it has little control over these and no plan yet in place to realise them”.