Galloping inflation. The bill for new French nuclear power would have jumped by 30% in 3 years, according to the daily Les Échos. The first estimate given in 2021 for the construction of six new EPR2 nuclear reactors estimated the cost of this vast project at 51.7 billion euros. Since then, the price of raw materials has soared on the back of the war in Ukraine. The rise in interest rates has also pushed EDF, in charge of carrying out this program, to review its copy. Financing such projects represents more than half of the overall bill. Contacted by Le Figaro, neither the energy company nor the Ministry of the Economy confirm this information.

The Minister of the Economy finally responded via the press. “EDF must learn to keep its costs and its schedule. The President of the Republic announced the construction of six new EPRs, EDF must meet this challenge on time and within the allotted costs, declared Bruno Le Maire, in Le Monde. This involves building a series of reactors, the first of which will be the Penly EPR (Seine-Maritime). This means economies of scale. I will participate in the next EDF executive committee, at the end of March, with a simple message: EDF must meet its deadlines and its costs,” summarizes the minister.

EDF has explained on several occasions that the final figures will only be known at the end of the year. A first revaluation showed a bill of 62 billion euros, according to our information. EDF specifies that it is “currently in a phase of optimizing costs and planning”. The group “has launched a competitiveness plan which aims in particular to challenge the purchasing program for the construction of the three pairs of EPR2 and the signing of the first contracts. As part of this monitoring, it considers it necessary to establish a time for reflection with the players in the sector. The construction of six reactors, two in Penly (Seine-Maritime), two in Gravelines (North) and two in Bugey (Ain), was approved by the President of the Republic in February 2022.

The rising cost of EPRs has almost become the norm. Those at Hinkley Point in Great Britain are expected to cost 33 billion euros more than expected. That of Olkiluoto in Finland started twelve years late and an additional cost of 8 billion, while that of Flamanville in Normandy should enter production twelve years late and an increased bill of 10 billion.

For the EPR2, EDF intends to master this aspect of things. This involves the group’s desire to first establish a detailed design of the reactors before starting construction. Experience has shown that the changes made during construction had an exorbitant cost.