Uncertainty remains over investment for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
EDF Energy chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz returned to the Energy and Climate Change Committee on Tuesday (24 May) to explain why there is still no decision on investment for the project.
“At the time of the last hearing in March there was an expectation that we would have taken the final investment decision on Hinkley Point C by now,” said de Rivaz.
EDF cannot proceed with construction until the overall financial plan to secure the company’s investment is in place, he explained.
“We are operating in a market where the dramatic fall in wholesale energy prices has created difficult conditions for all energy companies,” he said.
However, de Rivaz claimed it is more than difficult market conditions blocking progress on the project. With support secured from the French state and Chinese nuclear operator CGN, consultation with French trade unions is also said to be holding up the process.
“The current position of some of the French trade unions is to postpone the project for two to three years,” he said.
Once consultation with the unions is concluded, the project can be presented to EDF’s board for approval.
But de Rivaz could not give a precise date for when the investment process will be concluded. “I do not want to pre-judge the outcome of the consultation,” he said.
MP Angus MacNeil asked if the project could be rejected by the EDF board after the consultation process with the unions ended.
“The consultation is about seeking an advisory opinion. At the end of the consultation it is for the board of EDF to make its decision,” replied de Rivaz.
The consultation started on 2 May and, according to usual practice, the process could take 60 days, said de Rivaz.
Department of Energy and Climate Change minister of state Andrea Leadsom also appeared before the committee to reaffirm government support for Hinkley.
“We will continue as the UK Government to support new nuclear, which includes Hinkley C,” she said.
“We want to see a decision reached as soon as possible, but we recognise that it’s a commercial decision for EDF.”