The cost of the UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant has been projected to rise again, with figures from French energy major EDF published on Tuesday now suggesting final costs of up to £35bn (€32.12bn).

The figure is based on 2015 price values. In today’s terms, once inflation is taken into account, the number will be significantly higher.

The company, which is building and financing much of the project, also said in its 2024 update that the plant won’t be operational until 2029 at the earliest, adding that the first reactor might not come online until 2031 in an “unfavourable scenario”. It said that the cost of completing Hinkley will be between £31bn and £34bn, although if completion is delayed to 2031, costs would rise to £35bn.

The update delays the project’s start date by a possible further four years from the previous announcement in May 2022 that the plant would be operational by 2027, a deadline which was already one decade later than the original one given in 2007 when the project was approved. EDF’s latest update puts the project’s completion nearly 15 years over the first deadline.

In a video message published with the written update, Hinkley Point C boss Stuart Crooks blamed recent delays on the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation and Brexit. He also said that because the project has taken so long, design plans have had to be changed several hundred times, requiring more construction materials.

Less than a year ago, in February 2023, it was reported that costs at Hinkley Point would soar far beyond budget. At the time, based on inflation indices as of 30 June 2022, EDF executives said the cost of the plant could reach £32.7bn.

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“Like other major infrastructure projects, we have found civil construction slower than we hoped and faced inflation, labour and material shortages, on top of Covid and Brexit disruption,” Crooks said.

“Running the project longer will cost more money and our budget has also been affected by rising civil construction costs. It is important to say that British consumers or taxpayers won’t pay a penny, with the increased costs met entirely by shareholders.”

Two weeks ago, EDF announced that it will extend the life of its current operational fleet of reactors in the UK by at least two years.