A full month after the British government decided to review Chinese involvement in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project, the howls of outrage just won’t die down. Insisting any security concerns over Chinese involvement are groundless, China’s state news agency, Xinhua, warned Britain would be “foolish” to jeopardise its relations with Beijing by suspending the project. China’s ambassador to London declared the delay had brought bilateral relations between the two countries to “a crucial historical juncture” and called on the British government to “come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed”. Last week China’s president, Xi Jinping, even gave a speech in which he insisted China’s international investments deliver “a solid sense of gain”. All these protests miss the point. They all assume that the reason for the British government’s review is concern about China’s investment. But there is a far greater objection to Hinkley than that: it is a deeply flawed project, driven more by political vanity than economic rationale, the numbers of which make no sense whatsoever. The new British government of Prime Minister Theresa May would be right to pull the plug, regardless of any Chinese involvement. The evidence that London’s review of Hinkley was prompted by security concerns is remarkably thin. It consists largely of a blog post on a right-wing website written last October by the director of an education charity who was later appointed May’s joint chief of staff. In the post, he cited an article in The Times newspaper, claiming unnamed “security experts… are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will”. Maybe, but that should be the least of London’s concerns over Hinkley. The real problem with the project is its cost. In short, the Hinkley Point project would be a horror show with or without China’s involvement.
South China Morning Post 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Former UK environment minister and chair of the energy and climate change select committee, Tim Yeo, reflects on the political implications of the Hinkley C delay for the future of UK energy. Downing Street’s last minute intervention just when the EDF board took a positive final investment decision on Hinkley Point C has added a new element of uncertainty to this already complex process. Ministers, and notably the very capable new top team at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, urgently need to clarify UK energy policy. First and foremost, there needs to be unequivocal confirmation that Britain remains committed to achieving its legally binding carbon emission reduction targets. Such confirmation is much needed to reassure all investors and in particular the wider nuclear industry. Without it, fears that Britain no longer offers a sympathetic home for new nuclear plant will grow.
Infrastructure Intelligence 26th Aug 2016 read more »
Senior Chinese and British energy officials have met to discuss the Hinkley Point nuclear project after the British government’s surprise decision to delay the $24 billion plan upset China, one of the backers of the scheme. Top Chinese energy official Nur Bekri met Lucy Neville-Rolfe, British minister of state for energy, on August 25 in Beijing to discuss the plan to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) said on its website on Monday. The two sides also talked about a clean energy partnership, according to the NEA, which gave no details. Bekri is head of the NEA. China cautioned Britain against closing the door to Chinese money and said relations were at a crucial juncture after new Prime Minister Theresa May delayed signing off on the Hinkley Point project in July. Beijing’s ambassador to London said in August that Britain could face power shortages unless May approved the Franco-Chinese deal. The comments signaled deep frustration in Beijing at the delay, May’s most striking intervention since winning power after Britain’s June 23 referendum to leave the European Union.
Reuters 29th Aug 2016 read more »
THERESA May will face tough questions over the delay to the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant when she flies to China this weekend for the G20 summit. Now sources say it’s her deep rooted fears over security that could lead to the entire project being scrapped.
Express 29th Aug 2016 read more »