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Brexit – the ‘coup de grace’ for Britain’s new nuclear?

text Hinkley cancelledBrexit curse hits nuclear power, new London runway,  Ecologist, Paul Brown 29th June 2016 Following the vote to leave the EU, the UK’s energy and climate change policy faces major challenges, writes Paul Brown, with new nuclear power and a third London runway at Heathrow runway looking like the first casualties. …..Plans for four giant nuclear reactors to be built in Englandby the French are almost certain to be scrapped because opposition among trade unions in France has hardened since last week’s vote…….  time is rolling by and Électricité de France (EDF) is due to make a ‘final investment decision’ in September to build two 1,650 MW nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in southwest England. They were expected to be followed by two more to the east of London.

Time for the ‘coup de grace’

The Hinkley decision, already postponed repeatedly, has been in doubt for months because of the parlous financial state of EDF and the increasing opposition of a group of French trade unions, whose members fear that the building of nuclear power stations in the UK would divert much-needed investment away from home.

There are also question marks about whether the nuclear design is viable at all, since construction delays and cost over-runs have dogged the prototypes, and none is yet producing electricity.

The backlash against the British decision to leave the EU will not affect the decision, according to the immediate reaction from EDF and the French government, but the chances of the scheme being given the go-ahead in September now seem remote.

Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear and energy industry analyst based in Paris, says that the Brexit vote would hand EDF “the perfect occasion to pull the plug on Hinkley Point without losing face”. He believes that the Brexit vote represents a “disaster” for EDF’s plan, and that a decision to press ahead with Hinkley Point is unimaginable at the moment……

Can’t pay, won’t pay?

Until the Brexit vote, the UK government was committed to building 10 new nuclear power stations as part of its ‘low carbon’ plan for the energy sector. The programme always seemed improbable, given the state of the nuclear industry worldwide, but getting private investors to support such a policy now seems even less likely.

One of the unlooked-for side-effects of the decision is to take the UK outside theEuratom Treaty that safeguards nuclear materials from misuse. Since the UK has the largest stock of plutonium in the world, and a large trade in nuclear materials with Europe, the US and Japan, this creates serious problems over who now regulates the industry. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2987861/brexit_curse_hits_nuclear_power_new_london_runway.htm

July 1, 2016 - Posted by | politics, UK

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