Reports: EDF delays Hinkley Point C decision

Article by Staff Writer

ENERGY giant EDF is to delay the final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK, according to reports.

French newspaper Les Echos says that the French state energy firm is struggling to find the necessary funds to build Hinkley Point C, citing “a source familiar with the matter”. With its £18bn (US$26bn) price tag, Hinkley Point C will cost more than the company’s current market capitalisation. In October last year, China General Nuclear Corporation (CGNC), bought a 33.5% stake in the project, but the low price of electricity and higher costs mean more money will be needed. EDF is apparently now putting pressure on French government, which owns 84.5% of its shares, to help find new financing for the project.

The final investment decision has been repeatedly put back, but was expected to be made at a board meeting today. However, the board must reassure investors and unions that the project can go ahead. A source has told Les Echos that the decision is now likely to be put back until the company’s end of year results announcement on 16 February.

Neither EDF nor the French government would speak to Les Echos regarding the claims, although the BBC reports that just a week ago, EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said that the two Hinkley Point EPRs would be launched soon.

When operational, Hinkley Point C will generate 26 TWh/y of electricity from two European pressurised reactors (EPRs), 7% of the UK’s energy needs. It is backed by the UK government, which pledged £2bn in a government guarantee for the project, as well as promising a minimum price, or strike price, for electricity generated at the site of £92.50/MWh.

Hinkley Point C was originally expected to be operational by 2017 but the date has been repeatedly put back. It is now expected to open in 2025. Other EPR plants have also been delayed and are hugely over budget, including EDF’s reactor 3 at Flamanville, France, which was originally due to begin operating in 2012 but will now begin in 2018 and Finnish company TVO’s EPR at its Olkiluoto site, originally due in 2010 but which will now open in 2018. The Finnish government withdrew a licence for a second EPR on the site. Two EPRs in Taishan, China, being built by EDF and China Guangdong Nuclear Power, are currently expected in 2017, four years late.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, which has long campaigned against the construction of Hinkley Point C, said that the reports suggest that the EDF board is “rattled” and “could signal curtains” for the project.

“This reactor design, despite three attempts in Europe and China, doesn’t work. All three projects are massively delayed and hugely over budget. There isn’t a shred of evidence that it’ll be fourth time lucky in Somerset. The UK government needs to join the 21st century and start backing the renewable technologies that are proven to work, are cheaper than nuclear power, create jobs in the UK and contribute to the fight against climate change,” he said.

Article by Staff Writer

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