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Almost cetain hat European Commission will find UK’s Hinkley nuclear funding illegal

justiceflag-EUEuropean Commission likely to find Hinkley aid illegal: Europe London (Platts)–8May2014 The European Commission will almost certainly find that EDF Energy’s funding mechanism for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear unit in the UK is illegal state aid, an Austrian law professor told Platts.

Franz Leidenmuhler, who specializes in EU state aid cases and European competition law, said in an email that he believed “a rejection is nearly unavoidable. The Statement of the Commission in its first findings of December 18, 2013 is too clear. I do not think that some conditions could change that clear result.”

The new Hinkley unit will be built based on a funding model in which the UK government guarantees a floor price for future power sales. This floor price, known as a “strike price,” is the reference price below which EDF would receive UK government financial support and above which EDF would pay back money, effectively a guaranteed price for the power.

The strike price has been set at GBP92.50/MWh ($156.04) if the proposed new EPR there is the only new nuclear unit built by EDF Energy. The strike price would be GBP89.50 for both units if EDF is able to use the same EPR design to build another reactor at Sizewell C.

The support, known as contracts for difference, will be delivered through investment contracts designed to provide the most efficient long-term support for all forms of low-carbon generation. If the EC were to find the aid illegal, it is unclear whether EDF would go forward with the construction of the new reactor.

In a speech delivered at an industry conference last month, Leidenmuhler said that “in my opinion, the result has to be that this CfD is illegal state aid. Contrary to renewables, there is no exception for nuclear power in the general block exemption regulation, so that, as a result, CfDs in the field of nuclear power are not compatible with EU law.”…..

The categories of aid that are allowed under the block exemption include the areas of small- and medium-sized businesses, research, innovation, regional development, training, employment of disabled and disadvantaged workers, risk capital and environmental protection.

Leidenmuhler indicated he believed EDF’s funding mechanism for Hinkley Point C did not meet these criteria to be granted an exemption for state aid…….

The issue of a potential precedent being set was a point emphasized indirectly by Leidenmuhler in his presentation, when he cited the recent decision by the Czech government not to offer aid guarantees for the construction of a new nuclear unit at Temelin that would be similar to the guarantees offered by the UK government for Hinkley Point C.

“The decision of the Czech Government three weeks ago not to give such price guarantees in the case of Temelin is not only an economically reasonable step, but also legally required from the view of EU State aid law,” Leidenmuhler said.


May 10, 2014 - Posted by | EUROPE, Legal, UK

1 Comment »

  1. […] almost certain that the European Commission will find that the funding arrangements for Hinkley nuclear plant are illegal . Nuclear lobby launches a new public relations campaign – “Bringing Nuclear to […]

    Pingback by Australia’s climate denialist Budget, and the week’s nuclear news | Nuclear Australia | May 14, 2014 | Reply

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