EDF shareholders will gather in the Carrousel du Louvre on Thursday for the company’s general meeting. Not that many people present will be thinking about the delights of Paris in the springtime. The focus, instead, will be on EDF’s long-delayed plan to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. It is a project that has bedeviled Jean-Bernard Lévy, the company’s chairman, and has sent shockwaves through the French state to the Élysée Palace a kilometre up the road. Until two weeks ago, shareholders in EDF had been expected to offer final approval for Hinkley Point this week. Instead, amid a fresh delay until September and opposition from EDF employees, they will get a chance to air their views and grill the company’s board, which remains divided. “It’s clear that EDF’s top management and the French government are still backing the project,” Yves Marignac, director of WISE-Paris, an energy research group, said, “but neither has the means to solve all of the problems and push it forward.” EDF requires a €4 billion bailout led by the French state, its 85 per cent shareholder. Paris is expected to pay for this by selling stakes in other state-owned businesses, including Renault and airports at Nice and Lyons. This, though, will take time, as will a separate, €5 billion bailout of Areva, the bankrupt developer of the EPR technology, in which EDF is expected to participate by taking a 75 per cent stake. Areva collapsed last year amid big debts linked to the botched construction of earlier EPRs in Finland and Normandy. “Who would bet 60 to 70 per cent of his equity on a technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes ten years to build?” Mr Piquemal asked French MPs this week. With French presidential elections due in a year’s time, big decisions may become increasingly difficult to make, adding to the likelihood of further delay. “They are likely to postpone the decision again,” Mr Marignac said. He believes that a final decision is unlikely before the end of 2017.
Times 7th May 2016 read more »
When he was elected president in 1958, Charles De Gaulle chose to make France a military and civil nuclear power. His followers believe that his glorious legacy, at least in the civil field, will come undone if the state-owned electricity giant fails to build two of its new-generation reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Of the 72 reactors being built around the world, only four are French: one at home, one in Finland and two in China. The country staked its nuclear future on its powerful new European pressurised reactors, but developing nations have shown a preference for smaller, cheaper models.
Times 7th May 2016 read more »
A report in The Times today could mean that nuclear reactors in Somerset contain faulty French components. The Times reports that plans for Hinkley Point C have been thrown into chaos after the admission that engineers have falsified vital safety tests on parts supplied to reactors in France and possibly the UK. Power Magazine says France’s nuclear sector has been rocked to its core. Roy Pumfrey, spokesperson for Stop Hinkley, said: “What little credibility France’s nuclear sector had left has now completely evaporated. Surely now an end to Hinkley Point C is inevitable. If the Government doesn’t call a halt to this soon we will become the laughing stock of Europe.” Roy Pumfrey added: “As Albert Einstein is thought to have said ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. At the stroke of a pen David Cameron could launch projects sufficient to save or generate the same amount of electricity as Hinkley Point C which are capable of delivering long before 2025. And studies have shown that scrapping Hinkley Point and building renewable power instead could save the UK tens of billions of pounds.”
Blue Green Tomorrow 5th May 2016 read more »
Burnham-on-sea.com 6th May 2016 read more »
Stop Hinkley Press Release 5th May 2016 read more »
Life has changed considerably for Tom Greatrex over the course of the past year. He has gone from debating the minutiae of government energy policy to sharing a conference hall with Stormtroopers. “It was science fiction meeting science fact,” jokes the now chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA). Sharing the corridors of Birmingham’s NEC with Star Wars characters camew a year after he departed the corridors of power in Westminster having lost his Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency seat, and almost four months after starting in his new role at the NIA. It could be argued that he has left the frying pan and leapt into the fire, because nuclear power is a hot, and often controversial, topic. It is even more controversial right now with rumour and conjecture swirling around the question of when – and Greatrex is sure it’s a when and not an if – Hinkley Point C will get the final go-ahead from EDF. Greatrex also rubbishes claims that EDF is stalling over Hinkley Point C so that it can find an excuse to abandon the £18 billion project. “I went down to Hinkley Point the other week and a lot of work has been done, and is being done, in preparation,” he says. “Lots of things have happened down at the site, and if the suggestions were serious that EDF is just playing for time and is not committed to the project, I don’t think we’d have all the work going on.”
Utility Week 6th May 2016 read more »