Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant

Coordinates: 49°32′11″N 1°52′54″W / 49.53639°N 1.88167°W / 49.53639; -1.88167
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Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
Official nameCentrale Nucléaire de Flamanville
LocationFlamanville, Manche, Normandy
Coordinates49°32′11″N 1°52′54″W / 49.53639°N 1.88167°W / 49.53639; -1.88167
StatusUnits 1-2: Operational
Unit 3: Under construction
Construction beganUnit 1: 1 December 1979
Unit 2: 1 May 1980
Unit 3: 3 December 2007
Commission dateUnit 1: 1 December 1986
Unit 2: 9 March 1987
Unit 3: 2024 (scheduled)
Nuclear power station
Reactor typePWR
Reactor supplierFramatome
Cooling sourceEnglish Channel
Thermal capacity2 × 3817 MWth
Power generation
Units operational2 × 1330 MW
Make and modelUnits 1–2: P4 REP 1300
Unit 3: EPR
Units under const.1 × 1600 MW EPR
Nameplate capacity2660 MW
Capacity factor60.08% (2017)
70.55% (lifetime)
Annual net output13,999 GWh (2017)
External links
WebsiteCentrale nucléaire de Flamanville
CommonsRelated media on Commons

The Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is located at Flamanville, Manche, France on the Cotentin Peninsula. The power plant houses two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that produce 1.3 GWe each and came into service in 1986 and 1987, respectively. It produced 18.9 TWh in 2005, which amounted to 4% of the electricity production in France. In 2006 this figure was about 3.3%. At the time, there were 671 workers regularly working at the plant.

A third reactor at the site, an EPR unit, began construction in 2007 with its commercial introduction scheduled for 2012. As of 2020 the project was more than five times over budget and years behind schedule. Various safety problems have been raised, including weakness in the steel used in the reactor.[1] In July 2019, further delays were announced, pushing back the commercial introduction date to the end of 2022.[2][3] In January 2022, more delays were announced, with fuel loading continuing until mid-2023,[4][5] and again in December 2022, delaying fuel loading to early 2024.[6]

Unit 3[edit]

Construction on a new reactor, Flamanville 3, began on 4 December 2007.[7] The new unit is an Areva European Pressurized Reactor type and is planned to have a nameplate capacity of 1,650 MWe. EDF estimated the cost at €3.3 billion[7] and stated it would start commercial operations in 2012, after construction lasting 54 months.[8] The latest cost estimate (July 2020) is at €19.1 billion, with commissioning planned tentatively at the end of 2022.[9][2]

On 3 December 2012 EDF announced that the estimated costs have escalated to €8.5 billion ($11 billion), and the completion of construction was being delayed to 2016.[10] The next day the Italian power company Enel announced it was relinquishing its 12.5% stake in the project, and five future EPRs. They would be reimbursed for their project stake of €613 million plus interest.[11][12]

In November 2014 EDF announced that completion of construction was delayed to 2017 due to delays in component delivery by Areva.[13]

In April 2015 Areva informed the French nuclear regulator, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), that anomalies had been detected in the reactor vessel steel, causing "lower than expected mechanical toughness values".[14][15] Segolene Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy in the Second Valls Government, asked the producer for further details and possible consequences.[16]

Various safety problems have been raised, including weakness in the steel used in the reactor[17] together with heterogeneity of the steel alloy forged high integrity components used in the reactor pressure vessel,[18] that have also been shown to be present in Japanese-sourced components that have entered the French nuclear equipment supply chain.[19][20] The safety of the Flamanville EPR plant has also been questioned due to the danger of flooding of the kind experienced during the 1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood.[21] In June 2015 multiple faults in cooling system safety valves were discovered by ASN.[22]

In September 2015 EDF, announced that the estimated costs had escalated to €10.5 billion, and the start-up of the reactor was delayed to the fourth quarter of 2018.[23] The delays of Unit 3 of Flamanville received additional attention when in December 2016 The Economist reported that the British loan guarantees for Hinkley Point C require Unit 3 to be operational by 2020, that the regulator will rule on the future of Unit 3 mid-2017 and that one possible outcome of this ruling can delay its opening far beyond 2018, thus jeopardizing the British loan guarantees thereby preventing EDF from building the EPRs at Hinkley Point.[24]

In February 2017 renewed delays in the construction of the EPR-reactors at Taishan Nuclear Power Plant prompted EDF to state that Flamanville 3 remains on schedule to start operations by the end of 2018, assuming it receives regulator approval.[25] In June 2017, the French regulator issued a provisional ruling that Flamanville 3 is safe to start.[26]

In January 2018, cold functional tests were completed.[27] In February, EDF found that some secondary cooling circuit welds did not meet specifications, causing EDF to carry out further checks and issue a report. Following this, ASN requested EDF to extend the welding checks to other systems. Hot functional tests had to be postponed.[28]

In July 2018, EDF further delayed fuel loading to Q4 2019 and increased the project's cost estimate by a further €400 million ($467.1 million USD).[29] The latest project cost estimates by EDF amounted to €10.9 billion ($12.75 billion USD), three times the original cost estimates. Hot testing was pushed back to the end of 2018.[30] In January 2019, a further one-month delay in hot testing was announced.[31]

In June 2019 the regulator ASN determined that eight welds in steam transfer pipes passing through the two-wall containment, that EDF had hoped to repair after startup, must be repaired before the reactor is commissioned.[32] On 29 June 2019, it was announced that the start-up was once again being pushed back, making it unlikely it could be started before the end of 2022.[2] It is estimated the repairs will add €1.5 billion to the costs, bringing the total to €12.4 billion.[3] Further cost increases due to additional time needed to repair 110 defective welds have increased the cost to €12.7 billion.[4][5]

In July 2020, the French Court of Audit finalised an eighteen-month in-depth analysis of the project, concluding that the total estimated cost reaches up to €19.1 billion. The severe delays incurred additional financing costs, as well as added taxes and levies. In a response, EDF did not dispute the findings of the court.[9] In the same month, France's energy minister Barbara Pompili noted the high costs and delays, calling the project "a mess".[33]

In December 2022, EDF announced a further delay of at least six months with an estimated cost increase of €500 million due to more work to establish a new process for the stress relieving heat treatment of some welds close to sensitive equipment. Estimated total costs increased to €13.2 billion.[6] Fuel loading is now forecast for summer 2024.[34]


On 9 February 2017 a mechanical problem with a fan in the turbine hall of unit 1 caused an explosion and fire, causing five people to be treated for smoke inhalation. While the non-nuclear accident did not cause any radioactive leak, it did cause the number one reactor to be disconnected from the power grid.[35][36] EDF initially estimated the reactor would be operational within a week, but later estimated the end of March.[37]

Units 1 and 2 were under enhanced surveillance by regulator Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN) from 2019 to 2022 because of shortcomings in some operating activities, a high number of maintenance faults, poor mastery of certain maintenance operations, and inadequate quality of the ten-year inspection documentation of unit 1. This involved about 30 ASN inspections a year.[38]

Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant at night
Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant at night


  1. ^ Jennifer Rankin. Flamanville: France's beleaguered forerunner to Hinkley Point C, The Guardian, 27 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Snag-hit new French nuclear power station delayed by further 3 years". Agence France Presse. 29 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b "EDF warns of added costs of Flamanville EPR weld repairs". World Nuclear News. 9 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b Boselli, Muriel (12 January 2022). "EDF delays Flamanville start-up to end 2023 on weld issue". Montel. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Point d'actualité sur l'EPR de Flamanville". EDF France (in French). 12 January 2022. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
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  11. ^ "Enel Drops Participation in Flamanville EPR as Project Costs Soar by $2.6B". POWER. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Enel and Edf Terminate their cooperation on EPR in France". Enel. 4 December 2012. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  13. ^ Michael Stothard (18 November 2014). "EDF in fresh delay for flagship nuclear plant". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Flamanville EPR vessel anomalies under scrutiny". World Nuclear News. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  15. ^ http://www.asn.fr: Anomalies de fabrication de la cuve de l’EPR de Flamanville. Communiqué de presse, 7 April 2015
  16. ^ 8. April 2015: Nucléaire: une nouvelle anomalie détectée sur l’EPR de Flamanville
  17. ^ Jennifer Rankin. Flamanville: France's beleaguered forerunner to Hinkley Point C, The Guardian, 27 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Review: Irregularities and Anomalies Relating to the Forged Components of le Creusot Forge, 26 September 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Review: Irregularities and Anomalies Relating to the Nuclear Reactor Primary Coolant Circuit Components Installed in Japanese Nuclear Power Plants - Part 1 French Carbon Anomaly Correlation to Japanese Nuclear Power Plants=24 October 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Review: Irregularities and Anomalies Relating to the Nuclear Reactor Primary Coolant Circuit Components Installed in Japanese Nuclear Power Plants - Concluding Parts 2 & 3 - Potential Flawed Components Resident in Japanese Nuclear Power Plants=10 December 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  21. ^ The great lesson France has to learn from Fukushima Deciphering Fukushima, published 2011-03-08, accessed 8 May 2012
  22. ^ Henry Samuel (9 June 2015). "Faulty valves in new-generation EPR nuclear reactor pose meltdown risk, inspectors warn". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Flamanville EPR: optimised project management and a new timetable" (Press release). Flamanville, France: EDF. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  24. ^ "France's nuclear-energy champion is in turmoil". The Economist. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  25. ^ "EDF confirms Flamanville timetable after Taishan EPR delay". Times of India. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  26. ^ "French regulator says Flamanville 3 is safe to start". world-nuclear-news.org. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Flamanville EPR completes key pre-operational tests - World Nuclear News". world-nuclear-news.org. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  28. ^ "Possible reprieve for Fessenheim due to further Flamanville delays". Nuclear Engineering International. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  29. ^ "Nucléaire : l'EPR de Flamanville connaît de nouveaux retards et ne pourra pas démarrer avant 2022" (in French). 20 June 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
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  31. ^ "EDF gives update on Flamanville 3". Nuclear Engineering International. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  32. ^ "Weld repairs to delay Flamanville EPR start-up". World Nuclear News. 20 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  33. ^ Eales, Chris (23 July 2020). "French "EPR is a mess" – energy minister". Montel News.
  34. ^ "Flamanville EPR aiming for summer 2024 grid connection". World Nuclear News. 28 March 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  35. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (9 February 2017). "French nuclear power plant explosion: 'Several injured' after blast in Flamanville". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  36. ^ "Incendie à la centrale nucléaire de Flamanville : ce que l'on sait" [Fire at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant: What We Know]. ouest-france.fr (in French). 9 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  37. ^ Vaughan, Adam (21 February 2017). "EDF faces £1m a day bill to keep French nuclear reactor offline". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  38. ^ "ASN lifts its enhanced monitoring of Flamanville 1 and 2". Nuclear Engineering International. 7 July 2022. Retrieved 25 July 2022.