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UK government secretly questioning whether Hinkley Point C nuclear power project will even go ahead at all

 flag-UKThe trouble with Hinkley’s reactor design, Energy Desk, 20TH NOV 2014  Doug Parr I am beginning to feel a bit like the Kremlinologists of old, who used to try to work out what was really going on in the heart of the massive Soviet empire – the Kremlin – from the crumbs of news or gnomic statements that emerged from the edifice.

Except the focus is (as the Financial Times christened it) the biggest and most controversial infrastructure project in Europe, Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.

Given UK consumers are on the hook for an undiscounted £37billion of subsidy to this project, you’d think democratic principles would require that all developments were subject to full public scrutiny. But no; it’s all happening behind closed doors and we have to do the Kremlinology thing.

A few new scraps of information have emerged that do suggest the project is far from going swimmingly. There are 3 main points.

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plant

First, the reactor design, the European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) isn’t very good. A nuclear engineer now affiliated to University of Cambridge recently described it as ‘unconstructable’.

Further understanding of the weakness of the EPR design come from the actual experience of trying to build it. The French project in Flamanville has announced further delays and will now take a decade to build instead of the original timetable of 5 years.

The other EPR under construction in Europe is in Finland at Olkiluoto. Construction started in 2005 was originally scheduled complete in 2009, but earlier this Autumn it was announced it will now be almost a decade late in 2018, if there are no more delays. It’s not easy building an EPR.

Secondly, the other observation the Cambridge engineer had was that the Chinese – who are experimenting with building several models of reactor – appear to have rejected it for their future nuclear programme. This is a little hard to square with what the Chinese view of the Hinkley project is, because the Chinese state-backed companies China General Nuclear and China National Nuclear Corporation reportedly want a greater share of the supply chain contracts……..

EDF are turning to other potential investors such as Saudi Arabian state-controlled Saudi Electric………..

Questions have already been raised about the how an independent regulator would police standards with Chinese company involvement………

it turns out that without telling anyone, the UK government has been quietly questioning whether Hinkley will go ahead after all, or worrying if it does go ahead that it might be years late (that Kremlinology thing again)…….http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/analysis/trouble-hinkley

November 22, 2014 - Posted by | politics, UK

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