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France suggests UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear project could still be postponed

text Hinkley cancelledflag-franceHinkley Point nuclear project could still be postponed

Delaying £18bn development is ‘up for discussion’, says France’s Segolene Royal  Plans to build the world’s most expensive nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, near Somerset, could hit further delays, a French government official has hinted. Speaking during a radio interview this week, ecology minister Segolene Royal was asked whether the £18bn project, which is two-thirds funded by French state-backed energy giant EDF, would be postponed. She responded by stating simply that it is “still under discussion”, says The Guardian.

“There’s an agreement between France and Britain so things should go ahead. But the trade unions are right to ask for the stakes to be re-examined,” Royal said.

In particular, there should be “further proof” that the venture would not affect investment in renewable energy, she added.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that a group of senior engineers at EDF had circulated a white paper among executives calling for a delay of at least two years to overcome deficiencies in design and the “very low” competency of fellow state-owned reactor supplier, Areva. Board member and employee director Christian Taxil has also publicly called for the plans to be postponed.

Supporters for the deal include the British government, which has staked its reputation on Hinkley Point as the core part of its carbon-light energy strategy for future decades, and French economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who has said it will almost certainly get approval at an EDF investor meeting next month.

The incentives for the company are long-term and come in the form of an energy price guarantee that is almost three times current wholesale prices. A new agreement also offers £20bn protection against a future UK government pulling the plug.

The FT reports that 100 EDF engineers also responded to their colleagues concerns by issuing an open letter stating that the company can “build and deliver the two Hinkley Point reactors on time”.

 EDF’s relationship with Areva is indirectly one of the main reasons for the high profile divisions over Hinkley Point. EDF is being compelled to invest tens of billions of euros to bail out its partner and upgrade France’s nuclear power fleet but is already labouring under its own €37bn (£26bn) debt pile.

April 8, 2016 - Posted by | France, politics, UK

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