November 18, 2014 / 7:05 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-EDF says French nuclear reactor delayed another year to 2017

* New one-year delay adds up to 10-year building period

* EDF says Areva unable to deliver key ingredients in time

* EDF still committed to EPR for UK Hinkley Point project (Adds EDF quote, background)

PARIS, Nov 18 (Reuters) - French utility EDF announced a new one-year delay for its Areva-designed EPR nuclear reactor in Flamanville, France, which it now expects to be connected to the grid in 2017, a decade after construction started.

EDF said the delay was due to Areva’s difficulties with ensuring a timely delivery of certain pieces of equipment, such as the lid and internal structure of the reactor vessel. It also said Areva had briefed it on a steam generator welding defect.

Construction on the Flamanville EPR reactor started in 2007 and it had initially been scheduled to be connected to the electricity grid in 2012, but it has been delayed repeatedly.

In July, outgoing chief executive Henri Proglio had confirmed a new 2016 deadline and said he hoped the Flamanville EPR would become the first to come on stream.

Four EPRs are under construction worldwide, one in France, one in Finland and two in China, but the Finnish and French projects have been plagued by billion euro cost overruns and multiyear delays.

Construction on the first EPR in Olkiluoto, Finland started in 2005 and it had originally been scheduled to go live in 2009, but it is now expected that will occurr in late 2018, almost a decade later than originally planned. Construction will have lasted 13 years, if it is not delayed again.

EDF said that in spite of these construction problems, it remains commited to new nuclear in France, China and Britain.

“The EPR will contribute to the country’s energy supply and is critical to ensuring the continuity of our nuclear know-how in France and internationally,” EDF said.

Last month, European Union competition authorities gave the green light for state subsidies to EDF’s 16 billion pound project to build two EPR reactors in Hinkley Point C in southwest Britain, which are expected to start producing power from 2023.

Areva says the 1650 megawatt EPR reactor is among the safest in the world, with its core-catcher, plane-crash resisting concrete hull and multiple backup systems.

Critics say it is too big and expensive to build and the construction delays have hurt Areva’s export prospects. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Susan Thomas and William Hardy)

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