Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy knew the British government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract before the French utility’s board voted to approve the investment, he said in a letter to top executives. Board members at their meeting on July 28 were not informed that Britain planned to delay its decision on the $24 billion project to build the power plant in England, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the proceedings. In a letter emailed to EDF’s executive committee late on Tuesday this week, and reviewed by Reuters, Levy said that when he called the board meeting on July 21, he had done so with the go-ahead of the French state, which “had warned us that in light of her very recent arrival, the new British prime minister had asked for ‘a few days’ before deciding on the project”.
Reuters 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
The chief executive of EDF knew that the British government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract before the French company’s board voted to approve the investment. Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chief executive of EDF, said in a letter to the company’s executive committee that when he called the board meeting on July 21 he had done so with the go-ahead of the French state, which “had warned us that in light of her very recent arrival, the new British prime minister had asked for ‘a few days’ before deciding on the project”.
Times 4th Aug 2016 read more »
City AM 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
French state-owned energy company EDF’s plan to build the first new nuclear plant in Britain for 20 years is being reviewed by the British government under the leadership of new Prime Minister Teresa May. If construction starts on the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C plant in 2019 as is currently envisaged, it would likely take at least a decade before it comes online and then it would provide around 7 percent of Britain’s electricity generation. The timeline of the project is outlined below.
Reuters 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Directors have told the Financial Times they were not aware of the possibility of another delay when voting narrowly to approve it. But a letter sent on Tuesday night to the rest of the board by Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chairman and chief executive, claims he did know that a delay was coming. The letter, which has been seen by the FT, said: “Late on Wednesday evening, the 27th, we learned that the British prime minister was asking for a little more time, without putting in question the interest of the project, without saying what date the signature could take place, and that she would not communicate on the topic. “We therefore cancelled preparations for Friday’s ceremony in Somerset and the Chinese minister did not, in the end, take the plane for his imminent trip to Great Britain. “At the moment of the board’s vote on Thursday 28th afternoon, we thus knew that the ceremony wouldn’t be on the next day.” Seven board members voted against the plan last week, with one more having resigned just before the meeting in protest. Some of those members believe the vote might have gone the other way had they been aware of the potential that it could be delayed, and even cancelled, by the UK government. One senior EDF manager told the FT on Wednesday that the letter, which has been passed to the wider staff, has caused “uproar” at the company. He said: “We want to know why our chairman decided not to mention this to the other members of the board. On the contrary, they were told the British government was pressing for it to be signed so it could be immediately countersigned. This is quite amazing in terms of governance.”
FT 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Hinkley Point descends into diplomatic row with China.
The Week 2nd Aug 2016 read more »
China’s official news agency has questioned the British government’s postponement of approval for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, saying it cannot risk driving away Chinese investors. A commentary published by Xinhua, which is often seen as a reflection of official thinking, said China understood and respected Britain’s requirement for more time to think about the deal. “However, what China cannot understand is the ‘suspicious approach’ that comes from nowhere to Chinese investment,” it said. “The British government is actually running the risk of dampening the hard-won mutual trust with China,” Xinhua said. “For a kingdom striving to pull itself out of the Brexit aftermath, openness is the key way out,” it said. Theresa May, the prime minister, is understood to be concerned about the security implications of a planned Chinese investment in Hinkley and has delayed giving the £18bn (€21bn, $23bn) project the green light.
Nucnet 1st Aug 2016 read more »
Despite its friendly overtures, despite the pageantry of last year’s state visit and despite its money, China is not looking for friends. It is looking for people who will do what they are told. It is to be hoped that Theresa May will keep this in mind when the pressure starts to build over Hinckley point and the telephone calls begin.
Prospect 4th Aug 2016 read more »
There are reasons why Theresa May might harbour doubts about the Hinkley Point nuclear project — chiefly its unproven French technology and the high probability of time and cost overruns — but the fear expressed by her aide Nick Timothy 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’ sounds — even to a Sino-cynic like me — far-fetched. As I wrote here during President Xi Jinping’s visit last year, ‘The least sinister thing about the Chinese is their money. A ten-digit cheque… even from China National Nuclear Corporation… does not carry a ‘backdoor’ listening device.’ That said, we should stop kidding ourselves about the growing warmth of our economic relations with China, which was one of George Osborne’s propaganda themes. And we should ignore the Xinhua state news agency’s warning that the new Prime Minister’s apparent ‘suspicion towards Chinese investment’ threatens ‘the arrival of the China-UK golden era’. The truth is that to the Chinese we are a minor trading partner with some useful services to sell; we’re never likely to find them straightforward to deal with, or respectful of western concepts such as intellectual property and contract law.
Spectator 6th Aug 2016 read more »
Your short history of British nuclear power accompanying your extensive coverage of the Hinkley Point sudden vote face postponement (Mail, 29 July) wrongly described the Calder Hal plant at Sellafield ( then called Windscale) as “the world’s first full-scale nuclear power station.” Interestingly, the first – nominally commercial – reactor at Hinkley, the Magnox ‘A’ plant, was operated for military production purposes too. The first public hint came with a public announcement on 17 June 1958 by the Ministry of Defence, notably not the Ministry of Fuel and Power that oversaw the civilian nuclear programe – on: “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear ] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs…” in the Hinkley reactor. .
David Lowry’s Blog 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Yesterday I was invited to speak on BBC Scotland’s breakfast show about the state of Hinkley after last Thursday’s dramatic halt. In a short debate along with Tony Blair’s former Energy Minister Brian Wilson, a big advocate of nuclear, we touched on why Theresa May pulled the plug on the deal at the 11th hour for ‘further scrutiny’. Is as reported, the problem not the cost but our PM’s unease at Chinese involvement in such a deeply important bit of national infrastructure? Or is it less a conspiracy more the avoidance of complacency, as Mrs May is looking to justify the huge price tag and our commitment to pay EDF a whopping £92 per MWhr for about 50 years? We won’t know until autumn but it is clear Hinkley is having a very troubled birth, if it ever does take its first steps! A decade ago we were told it would be providing power by 2017. When ELN started we expected it to be half built by now. And after redesigns, safety changes, investigations, resignations and endless controversy we are now looking at another delay, all of which is costing cash. If we could reduce our current energy use by a tenth in the next decade, which is totally possible with incoming demand side technologies, do we need a Hinkley and its 7% baseload capacity, at all? We know both National Grid, businesses and government are looking to increase how much energy we can save by changing both personal and working practices. Smart meters will change how we look at power use and the growth of EV transport could radically alter our view of renewable energy, which is at present so hard to store. Tesla boss Elon Musk’s huge battery factory (Giga-factory) in the US, is expected to revolutionise EV driving and with it energy storage as new batteries in cars will be able to store power generated by renewables at any time. If it works he plans to repeat the feat in Europe. Could the EV battery replace the need for the nuclear generator? I don’t know if any of this is going on in Mrs May’s mind. Is she thinking short term? Go for gas it’s cheap. Or is she thinking long term energy reduction? Perhaps she is worried about Chinese espionage? Or simply delaying an approval after she’s given it more considered thought.
Energy Live News 1st Aug 2016 read more »