Ten years ago, when the British government first considered launching a new nuclear programme, Areva, the French nuclear technology company, said it could build reactors that would produce electricity profitably at £24 per megawatt-hour. It seemed an attractive proposition. Not only was this less than previous reactors, it was competitive with other power sources. New technology seemed to have opened the door to affordable carbonless electricity; Britain could meet its ever-tougher climate goals without shaking the public down. A decade on and a major nuclear accident later, the world knows better. Nuclear projects elsewhere have been scrapped and existing stations shuttered or scheduled for early closure. Meanwhile stringent regulations have exposed Areva’s promise as a chimera. It turns out that the price of new nuclear for Britain is not £24 per MWh but nearly four times as much. The French face several obstacles. First, there is the question of EDF’s balance sheet, groaning under a €37bn debt pile. The company’s share price has more than halved in the past year and its market capitalisation is now about €21bn. That is not much more than the company’s 67 per cent share of the cost of Hinkley C. Linked to this are worries about the reactor technology it is employing. The two projects under construction, including EDF’s at Flamanville in France, are delayed and over budget. It might be difficult to entice lenders while it is possible that problems with Flamanville might cause construction to be halted or scrapped. New nuclear might not be needed were the UK to rethink its costly promises and reduce its carbon targets to match those of other EU states. If new reactors are to be considered, however, they must be subjected to the rigours of competition. That is the only way to get the right technology at acceptable cost. Britain is saddled with the worst of all worlds. The government has effectively written the French a long-dated option to sell it unproven technology at an extremely generous price. Politically painful it may be, but the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute.
FT 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Hinkley C funding delays causing uncertainty in Burnham business community. The Burnham Chamber of Commerce have expressed concern as the potential investment associated with the new build will have a knock on effect on the town. A spokesman for the group said: “Uncertainty is unwelcome but the concentration of Hinkley C support services and infrastructure in Bridgwater means that the material impact on Burnham is limited.” In Bridgwater there was similar frustration. The chairman Steve Leahy said: “We were told early January but early January has come and gone. I’ve had discussions today about it and made enquiries but we can’t get any news of the decision.”
This is the West Country 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Although the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant is not in North Devon, it offers considerable benefits to this area’s businesses and economy. The sum of £16 billion is being invested in the plant and, while much of this will be spent in Somerset, there is a huge demand for contractors from across the region to work on various aspects of the project.
North Devon Journal 18th Feb 2016 read more »