The start of electricity generation at Hinkley Point C in Somerset has been pushed back six months to June 2026, it was announced today.
The project is now estimated to cost between £22bn and £23bn, more than previous estimates of £21.5bn – £22.2bn.
French giant EDF, which is building the new nuclear power plant, said that the delay was due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on construction.
In addition, it said that previously announced risks of further delays up to 15 months, and costing an additional £700m, remained.
EDF said that despite the pandemic, the project had made “significant” progress on site in 2020.
Social distancing measures meant that fewer people have been able to work on the project, which has pushed back the timeline for the power plant.
Hinkley Point C is the only one of seven proposed new nuclear plants currently under construction in the UK.
The 3.2 gigawatt power station, the first new build on British soil for 20 years, will be able to power the equivalent of 6m homes.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of trade body the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The pandemic has created significant challenges for all construction projects, including Hinkley Point C.
“The introduction of strict protocols has enabled work to continue on site, but inevitably those measures have meant slower progress since March 2020. The ability to continue work on the largest construction project in Europe is testament to the commitment of the workforce, supply chain and project management at Hinkley.
“Hinkley Point C will make the single most important contribution towards achieving the net zero vision the Government has set out in the recent Energy White Paper, with the creation of thousands of skilled, high-quality jobs across the supply chain.