EDF has denied reports it would look to the UK to step in if Hinkley’s Chinese backers decide to drop out of the £18 billion project. Company executives said the British government might have to take over the £6 billion stake of the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to avoid a “disaster”, according to reports in the Financial Times. “If the Chinese pull out, there is no way that EDF will be able to pay for the rest itself. We would need the British or someone else to step in,” one unnamed source was quoted as saying. It would be a “disaster” for the project if the Chinese withdrew, said another, but EDF would “wait and see” what played out before assuming the project was over. However, EDF said in a tweeted statement: “EDF strongly denies the quote attributed to us by the Financial Times. “We are confident and wait patiently for the government decision.”
Utility Week 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Can Britain keep the lights on without Hinkley? If Hinkley is indispensable, scrapping the proposed power station in Somerset would leave the UK facing an energy crisis. If not, the prime minister has more freedom to address her concerns over costs and the security implications of Chinese investment in the project. As with everything about Hinkley, the answer is mired in complexity and open to dispute. A recent report by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, a think-tank, claimed Britain could not only survive without Hinkley but save £1bn a year in the process. Others see such a benign assessment as complacent and reckless. Hinkley’s advocates portray the project as a crucial step in replacing the UK’s dirty coal-fired power stations and its existing but ageing nuclear reactors. About 60 per cent of UK electricity-generating capacity in 2010 is forecast to have disappeared by 2030. Cancelling Hinkley would require the UK to find alternative sources for the 3.2 gigawatts of power — about 7 per cent of national demand — expected from the plant. Options for achieving this would be constrained by the government’s carbon reduction targets, which rule out a revival of coal or a large-scale shift to gas. The UK is projected to have 37.9GW of wind capacity by 2030 under current plans, 60 per cent offshore. The ECIU reckons just four additional large offshore projects would be enough to replace Hinkley.Green power advocates argue that output can be smoothed over by using gas when winds are light. The ECIU report said six to 10 gas-fired units would be needed for this purpose, costing a fraction of Hinkley’s £18bn to build. But Tony Ward, a utilities expert at EY, the consultancy, queried where the investment would come from. “Who is going to spend £600m building a gas-fired power station that is only used a few days a year?” “We are moving from guaranteed power to a new world of uncertain supply,” said Mr Ward. Others see this more positively as a shift from “always-on” capacity to more efficient “smart” grids matching supply and demand. Advances in electricity storage — allowing surplus wind and solar power to be saved up — could further reduce the need for “baseload” power of the kind to be generated by Hinkley. “Future grids will be smart, decentralised [and] flexible,” said Paul Massara, chief executive of North Star Solar, a renewable power company. Others say new technology would not arrive quickly enough to avert a UK energy shortage. Even if Hinkley’s 3.2GW of power could be found elsewhere, its cancellation would call into question a wider programme of new reactors due to deliver 14GW by 2035.
FT 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Chinese president Xi Jinping said he is willing to show ‘patience’ with the government in an apparent reference to the Hinkley Point delay. Prime Minister Theresa May irritated Beijing by announcing a pause to the project earlier in the summer hours after French energy giant EDF confirmed its share of the project would go ahead. The £18billion project is a joint venture between Britain, China and France to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point that is currently due for completion by 2025. Downing Street said China was also ‘open to a bilateral trade arrangement’ with Britain after talks between Mrs May and Mr Xi.
Daily Mail 5th Sept 2016 read more »
The prime minister’s decision to review plans for Hinkley Point centres on the security threat posed by allowing a Chinese company to invest in critical infrastructure in the UK. However, officials are also puzzling over a simpler issue — the plant’s cost, and whether it represents value for money for consumers and businesses compared with the alternatives. At £18 billion there is no doubt that building the plant using French technology will be very expensive. Building a gas-fired power station with the same generating capacity of 3,200 megawatts would probably cost about £2.7 billion, or 15 per cent of Hinkley’s total cost, according to industry executives. Given Britain’s access to gas — either from fields in the North Sea, imports from abroad or by fracking for onshore shale deposits — this would be cheaper. The price contrasts unfavourably with recent government forecasts which say onshore wind power and large-scale solar will be cheaper to produce — at about £50-£75 per megawatt hour of power — by 2025 when Hinkley is due to enter service. We are already close to those levels. In July, Denmark’s Dong Energy won a bid to build two offshore wind farms off the Dutch coast at a price of €72.70 (£61) per megawatt hour.
Times 6th Sept 2016 read more »
[Machine Translation] Nuclear: Theresa May casts doubt on the future of Hinkley Point project each passing day threat just over the future of the two EPR reactors Hinkley Point (southwest England), a colossal project 22 billion which rely heavily on hopes of revival of a French nuclear industry in deep trouble. The reflection period demanded by the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has awakened speculation about the will of London complete its term, as critical to the economics of the project. Ms. May reiterated on Sunday 4th September on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou (China), it would stop its current decision September, having reviewed the case from all angles.
Le Monde 5th Sept 2016 read more »