In a recent Reuters Article on EDF nuclear plans, there is a sentence that makes it highly unlikely that any more EPR nuclear power stations can be built in Europe.
"Slow is scary if France quits nuclear : state institute"
Apparently a dramatic skills shortage is looming for EDF later this decade, as France confirms that it wants to slowly wind down its nuclear portfolio.
" "You can't spread the exit of nuclear over half a century. It's very dangerous," he said, adding that this consideration partly explained Germany's decision to opt for a fast exit to avoid a loss of skills.
France's state-owned utility EDF, which operates its 58 nuclear reactors, faces a wave of retirements and will have to replace half its nuclear staff by 2017-18."
This is what the Modernisation of British Rail required when moving from steam power to diesel power. (Here we are attempting to move from 3rd Gen. Nuclear to 4th Gen. Nuclear, and the skill sets needed will be as different as in the move from steam power to diesel power on the railways)
British Rail found it wasn't cost effective or practical to make the transistion from steam to diesel gradually. It is difficult to attract lots of clever young people to learn skills only necessary to keep an obviously dying industry alive for a few years longer than might otherwise be the case. Maintaining supply chain investment and naintaining support services for long obsolete products becomes extremely difficult even at any cost.
Both the new EPR nuclear reactors currently being built in Europe, France's Flamanville 3 and Finland's Olkiluoto 3 are both now due to be finished in 2016. That means they have to be commisssioned in parallel. That means managing two separate and highly skilled commissioning teams (from the contractor supply chains as well as from Areva/EDF) at just the time they have large numbers of people retiring out of the Industry.
This of course increases the risk of yet further delays to one or both of these projects.
The senior policy people at the IET should think about how they respond to the question I raised a few days ago...
"What happens once the UK abandons the path to new 3rd Generation Nuclear?"