Another Flamanville 3 nuclear plant delay increasingly likely

Author: Rebecca Gualandi

2019/04/05

LONDON (ICIS)--The commissioning of France’s long-overdue 1.65GW Flamanville 3 nuclear project could face further delays, according to industry stakeholders.

A group of experts from French nuclear authority ASN, nuclear safety institute IRSN and utility EDF are set to meet on 9 April to discuss what to do about the welds of the plant’s EPR reactor, IRSN’s director Jean Cristophe-Niel said at a conference in Paris on Thursday.

At the meeting ASN could communicate to EDF whether it would want the welds to be entirely rebuilt or just repaired. If ASN does order the welds to be rebuilt this could significantly delay the commissioning of the plant which was previously set for winter 2019-2020. The project has already faced delays spanning seven years. ASN will have to communicate its final decision on Flamanville’s welds in May.

The director of energy think-tank WISE-paris Yves Marignac also said at the conference that it was possible Flamanville 3 would be delayed further with no clear timeframe in sight.

A number of traders present at the conference said they were not surprised by this possibility given the project’s track record.

The statements are backed up by French grid operator RTE that in a 2018-2023 energy security analysis released on Wednesday said there is currently no consensus as to when Flamanville 3 will come online or when the 1.76GW Fessenheim nuclear plant will be shut down.

The French energy minister had asked RTE to come up with different scenarios in case Flamanville is delayed by a few years. These were also covered in the analysis.

To maintain sufficient amount of capacity for security reasons it might be necessary to keep two coal plants online until Flamanville 3 becomes operational.

French curve contracts have been under bullish pressure in recent sessions amid rallying carbon and coal markets. Therefore it is difficult to tell whether the news of Flamanville’s potential delay had a further impact on the market.