EDF said that the next generation EPR, known as the EPR 2, would benefit from a reduction in preparatory studies leading to significant cost reductions.
The company said it was also planning on bringing in new oversight measures for its major projects, after a government audit last year highlighted planning deficiencies and poor coordination at some sites.
The audit pointed to several issues besetting the wider French nuclear industry, including a lack of specific skills at EDF, poor project management and problems the group has had in integrating the nuclear business of its failed competitor Areva.
EDF said it had made progress on a plan to align France’s nuclear industry with “the highest standards of diligence, quality and excellence required for the successful completion of nuclear projects”.
“This is a major challenge as nuclear power, generated from a low-carbon energy source, must continue to play an active role in the fight against climate change,” a statement said.
It December 2019 EDF said it had earmarked €100m for 2020 and 2021 for the plan, known as Excell.
In October 2019, Le Monde newspaper reported that the French government had asked EDF to prepare for “a new start” for nuclear energy with plans to construct six EPR units over the next 15 years.
EDF has faced delays in the construction of some plants, including its Flamanville-3 EPR project in Normandy. The Generation III unit is 12 years behind schedule and €4m over budget.
Regulator ASN said in July that around 100 welds in the reactor circuits need to be repaired before the reactor can be commissioned, although this number was expected to change depending on the results of checks. EDF said on Thursday it had established a welding plan “to address specific competency and quality challenges”. The plan will support the training and qualification of welders working on nuclear projects.
The government has put off a decision on whether or not to build new nuclear reactors until after Flamanville-3 is operating, which is now expected at the end of 2022.
EDF is building Britain’s first new nuclear station in more than two decades, with two EPRs at Hinkley Point C, with backing from China’s CGN.
In September 2019 EDF raised its estimate of the cost of completing Hinkley Point C to between £21.5bn and £22.5bn, an increase of £1.9bn to £2.9bn compared to previous estimates.
EDF also said it intends to push ahead with plans for Sizewell C, replicating the benefits of Hinkley in the east of England. In May, EDF submitted an application to build two new EPR units at Sizewell C.