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EDF defends Hinkley against alternatives

Hinkley Point C pre construction

EDF’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has used a speech at the World Nuclear Association Symposium to defend the construction of Hinkley Point C against alternatives.

The £18bn Somerset power station, which gained government go-ahead last week, has received criticism for been too expensive, too slow and of having an uproved design.

But on 16 September de Rivaz defended the power station. “Hinkley Point C will generate low-carbon, reliable, baseload generation around the clock – there when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine,” he said.

EDF is developing small modular nuclear reactors, one of the proposed alternatives to Hinkley, and de Rivaz said the French energy company believes they have “great potential” in the UK, complementing larger nuclear power stations and renewables. But he said: “Today no one can know how long it will take for policymakers, regulators and planners to approve these designs and what they will cost.”

Defending Hinkley against renewables, he said that although wind has a “critical role”, its intermittency meant it could not be relied upon to meet demand. In addition, he claimed Hinkley was cheaper than offshore wind. “As for offshore, recent auctions for UK offshore wind projects averaged £137 per megawatt hour (MWh) compared with £92.50 for Hinkley Point C. That excludes system integration costs at around £10 per MWh,” he said.

Hinkley has also come under criticism for the design – similar to that being used at the beleaguered Flamanville site in France. However, de Rivaz claimed Flamanville is now on track and the team had learnt lessons. “The testing programme for the [EDF developed] Taishan EPR (in China) is running smoothly. Cold testing is complete and preparations for hot testing are underway. These are some of the final steps before commissioning,” he added.

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