On Monday this week, a parliamentary faction of France’s green party said it would demand the creation of a parliament committee to investigate the troubles with the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) design. On the same day, Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima announced that it had selected Toshiba as a sole candidate to build a nuclear reactor instead of French nuclear group AREVA.
The latest rebuff deals another substantial blow to the reputation of AREVA’s 1600 megawatt EPR design and raises questions about France’s ambitious nuclear export plans. Earlier this month, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), a different Finnish utility who hired AREVA to build its first EPR, announced even further construction delays and cost overruns. The Olkiluoto 3 site under construction by AREVA is already years behind schedule and two and a half times the original budget. AREVA and TVO are openly contesting who should shoulder the blame.
AREVA is doing everything it can to maintain credibility from a commercial perspective, but has not sold a reactor since 2007. AREVA claims that the problems encountered and cost overruns experienced are merely due to the fact that it is a new reactor design, and AREVA’s CEO Luc Oursel still hopes to sell 10 EPR reactors by 2016, despite the fact that the EPR has performed pitifully in export markets, being shunned in the United States, Great Britain, the UAE, Czech Republic, and Finland.