Plans for an £18 billion nuclear power station in Somerset were dealt a double blow yesterday after the French minister responsible admitted it was a risky project and fresh problems emerged at a prototype in Normandy. Emmanuel Macron, France’s economy minister, has been a staunch supporter of the plan by EDF, the state-owned energy giant, to build two reactors at Hinkley Point. However, he is wavering in the face of growing doubts and a rift within the French cabinet. Mr Macron’s spokeswoman said that he still backed the plan, but admitted that it involved “risks as well as opportunities”. Leaders of French unions, who oppose the project, said he had told them that he had not yet decided on whether to order EDF to press ahead with construction of two reactors supplying 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity in the UK. EDF is 86 per cent owned by the French state. The comment marked a clear change in tone from Mr Macron whose voice is considered decisive in the debate. The spokeswoman said Mr Macon had told unions that EDF, which has debts of £30 billion, needed to make a swift decision on whether to proceed, but had agreed on the need for a “debate” within the company over the project. Compounding the concerns about the Hinkley project, EDF and Areva, the French reactor maker, have admitted that more tests will be required at Flamanville. A year ago, French safety authorities detected weak spots in the 550-tonne steel reactor vessel being used there. Mr Macron’s remarks came after Seggolene Royal, the energy minister, publicly called for a decision on Hinkley Point to be delayed because it would leave EDF with no money for solar and wind-power projects in France. EDF’s board is widely expected to adopt the same position as the French government when it meets next month to make a final decision on Hinkley Point. Chinese regulators have said construction of two similar French reactors in Taishan will also be delayed while tests in France are conducted.
Times 15th April 2016 read more »
The future of the £18 billion plan to build Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset hangs in the balance today ahead of a showdown meeting between a top French minister and the boss of EDF. Economy minister Emmanuel Macron and EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy will meet in Paris this afternoon, a day after the minister was told by union leaders to postpone the project indefinitely. Mr Macron met the unions who represent workers in the energy industry yesterday (Thu) after his boss, President Francois Hollande, was sent a bombshell letter calling on the French Government not to commit more money to support EDF’s Hinkley C plans. The unions emerged from yesterday’s meeting confirming Mr Macron has not yet decided whether the French Government should go ahead with the Hinkley project. “The minister has told us that he has not yet made his decision,” CGT union official Marie-Claire Cailletaud, who added that the minister ‘assured us’ the decision would ‘not be taken lightly.
Western Daily Press 15th April 2016 read more »
After another month of new dates, new financing models and new problems, the media are now mainly hostile if not openly deriding the Hinkley deal, and speculation is rife about what might really be happening. The Times leading editorial (3.03.16) dubbed Hinkley a “Nuclear Disaster” and called for its abandonment. What a way to run an energy policy. So, what is going on? Certainly there are conjuring tricks, charades, blame games and, hard to dispute, uncertainty and blight for communities and businesses affected – not the least, here in Suffolk.
Together Against Sizewell C 10th April 2016 read more »