France’s state-controlled energy conglomerate EDF has awarded a contract to Bouygues Travaux Publics, in joint venture with British firm Laing O’Rourke, to construct the buildings that will house the reactors at the UK’s new nuclear power station, Hinkley Point C.
Bouygues’ share of the contract will amount to at least €1.7bn ($1.8bn), the company said in a statement last month, adding that the "exceptional project" will employ some 3,500 site workers at peak periods.
The signing comes almost five years after the Bouygues-Laing O’Rourke joint venture was named preferred bidder for the main structural works in June 2012.
The deal was announced on 10 January but, since then, the prospect of Brexit has caused new uncertainty to cloud the controversial scheme, which is the UK’s first new nuclear station in a generation, and is estimated to cost $22.6bn (£18bn).
The project will benefit from the experience gained on these two projects, and it will see a number of key innovations implemented, such as digital modelling– Bouygues
After UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on 17 January that Britain intended to leave both the EU’s single market and customs union, EDF told British MPs that restrictions on trade and foreign labour caused by the UK’s departure could mean cost hikes and delays to the country’s nuclear build plans.
Experts then expressed fears over the implications to Hinkley Point C of Britain leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), a move that might complicate international safety and cooperation agreements.
The Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, England will have two of the new-generation European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), which are manufactured by French conglomerate, Areva, with total capacity of 3.2GW. It will supply 7% of the United Kingdom’s electricity consumption, providing power for more than 5 million homes.
Bouygues Construction won the civil engineering contract for the EPR nuclear plant in Olkiluoto, Finland, in 2005, followed by that for the EPR plant in Flamanville, France, in 2006.
Both projects are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule owing to technical complications. For years Areva has been locked in a dispute with the Finnish utility, TVO, over the apportioning of blame and cost for the overruns at Olkiluoto.
Bouygues said: "The Hinkley Point C project will benefit from the experience gained on these two projects, and it will see a number of key innovations implemented, such as digital modelling."
Image: Render of the new twin-EPR nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, England (Bouygues)