While a lot of other energy companies are pulling out of the nuclear energy race, there is one group that is jumping in head first. Apparently, EDF Energy has announced that it is going to increase its current 300 million pound a year investment on UK nuclear plants. However, the group is doing this in order to adopt all the new safety rules that have been imposed on Britain’s nuclear energy industry since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Vincent de Rivaz, who is the chief executive of EDF in Britain, said that they will now make over and above the current investment to take into account the recommendations on backup systems. This is something that the company can afford to do, so they will do it. However, it is worth noting that a final sum has not been agreed on, so the company cannot give out such a figure.
For those that do not know, Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation published a series of safety recommendations to the nuclear industry. This study was put out in September after “learning lessons” from what happened in Japan. Operators need to be up to safety code, or they will face being shut down. It is better to shut down the plant than it is to put lives at risk.
EDF Energy has also announced their plans to build two new third-generation nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. This is the first new nuclear plant in the UK in nearly twenty years. Some people see this as a positive sign for the nuclear industry as a whole.
This brand-new station will have a start-up date sometime in early 2018. However, recent reports have said that this original start-up date could be later now due to the new regulations following the events at Fukushima. The new deadline will not be made public until the final investment decision is made at the end of this year. However, some feel that the start-up date should not be pushed too far back.
De Rivaz went on to say that he expects the ONR’s interim design approval for Areva’s European Pressurised Water Reactor. This is a key milestone in the regulatory process. The plan is to follow through one option of using the EPR at Hinkley Point as well as a site purchased at Sizewell to build a new reactor. However, these plans are still far off. They are still three years between the Somerset investment decision and the start of the Sizewell project. This has left plenty of room for talks.