To me this sounds a very dubious argument for the simple reason that building another two units of their 'Euorpean Pessurised Reactor' (EPR) at the same time as Hinkley will put even greater pressure on staff resources - which are very scarce in the highly specialised nuclear industry - and lead to increased problems and costs, not savings. The argument posed by EDF annoys me especially as I have been (for some time) researching a book for Routledge about the factors that have led to the nuclear power construction cost overruns, and big factor appears to be precisely the fact that there is just not enough specialised nuclear staff in the West to build nuclear power plant. So this argument about 'transferring' staff seems to me to be especially tendentious.
EDF claims they are going to 'transfer staff'. Planning to transfer staff could produce even bigger delays as construction fell behind schedule, the staff couldn’t be released on time and building at Sizewell has to be halted leading to even greater costs as other staff sit around doing very little.
Really the whole argument seems to me to be a clever way of distracting from the obvious point that they cannot build more than two units at once (indeed, cannot even do that on time). To say that there is some sort of cost-saving in this seems bizarre. But then, in reality, we shall find that the real start of construction at Sizewell C will be pushed back and back.
But EDF have an big incentive to pre-commit the UK Government to an early start for Sizewell C (which may in practice be no more than some light work in advance of serious construction) because of three possibilities.
The first is that bad news continues to come about the longer and longer delays with building EPR reactors in France and Finland. The second is that bad news could soon be also coming concerning more delays with Hinkley C itself. The third is that EDF are in big financial trouble having to fund Hinkley C on their own balance sheet while suffering losses with their construction at Flamanville and would be given considerable succour with an open-ended committment to pour money into the company for another twin power plant. (See my earlier blog post on the massive losses EDF are suffering with Flamanville). The quicker they can get a decision from the UK Government then the less chance that the Government will be put off by continuing bad news from Flamanville and Hinkley C itself.
EDF have been consistently arguing for arrangements that they say reduce costs, while the outome is that costs increase. This is most likely to be the case with the arrangements that they have promoted to build Sizewell C. They have claimed that it will be cheaper because using Government money is chreaper. But the reality is that the Government will be committed to paying for any cost overruns of the project - so how is this project going to be built cheaper when the company doing it has no contractual incentive to keep costs down?
The reality is that every nuclear power project being built in the west over this century is costing at least double (probably even more than that eventually) than they were supposed to cost in the first place. The cost of building Sizewell C under the proposed 'Regulated Asset Base' is likel;y to be much higher for the energy consumer compared to even Hinkley C - even if it is cheaper for EDF! And EDF are rushing the public into accepting the inevitable high public costs before there is further mouning bad news from the construction of their power plant at Flamanville and Hinkley C.