EDF’s long-awaited decision to go ahead with the final investment in Hinkley Point C met an unexpected twist this morning after the Government announced a review of the project.
More from: Government blindsides EDF’s Hinkley go-ahead
Board members made the historic decision to press ahead with the £18bn project in Paris yesterday, with the vote reported to be 10 to 7 in favour. The announcement was not without dissension, board member Gerard Magnin resigned before the vote took place.
But just as the civils sector was welcoming one of the biggest infrastructure projects in history, this morning there is fresh doubt over the build. The business and energy secretary Greg Clark has now announced that a final decision on the UK government’s part of the deal will now be delayed until the autumn.
He said: “The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix. The government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn.”
The decision has been met with dismay, with one union calling it ‘bewildering and bonkers’.
EDF in the UK made an official statement hailing the decision last night. It said: ”The HPC Project is a major element of the Group’s CAP 2030 strategy. The two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point will strengthen EDF’s presence in Britain, a country where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the largest electricity supplier by volume.
”HPC will also enable the Group to mobilise all its significant nuclear engineering skills following the final investment decision. The first concrete of reactor 1 of HPC, scheduled for mid-2019, will coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018.
”HPC is a unique asset for French and British industries as it will benefit the whole of the nuclear sectors in both countries and will support employment at major companies and smaller enterprises in the industry.”
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general Nick Baveystock said in response to EDF’s decision: “Nuclear has an important role to play in achieving the UK’s goal for a secure, low carbon economy. The Hinkley decision is a major step forward, and we hope it will be the first of a fleet of new nuclear power stations. The decision comes at critical time, demonstrating confidence in the infrastructure sector and in the UK as a place to invest.
“We need to ensure we have the skills to build and maintain the new stations – this requires long term, focussed planning by Government and industry. We must also not relent in our pursuit of a mix of low carbon solutions. Nuclear is a good base load power source, but the new fleet is at least 10 years away from power generation and capacity margins are tightening. Technologies such as new combined cycle gas turbines, renewables and electricity storage must be driven forward, alongside demand management initiatives.”