Govt. go-ahead for new Hinkley atom power plant fires starting pistol in race for British ‘nuclear renaissance’

CGI of the new Hinkley Point C atomic power plant
CGI of the new Hinkley Point C atomic power plant

The UK government has today finally given the go-ahead for a Franco-Sino consortium to build a new £18bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset after a 10-year long planning and approvals process.

Nuclear-power is a vital part in the government’s plan to meet its targets in reducing CO2 emissions and to providing stability and security of electricity supply.

 

But it has imposed ‘significant safeguards’ for any further nuclear new build by the EDF and the Chinese partner, CGN.

In a statement, the government said: “After Hinkley, the British Government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government’s knowledge or consent.

“There will be reforms to the government’s approach to the ownership and control of critical infrastructure to ensure that the full implications of foreign ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security.”

British Energy Secretary Greg Clark, said: “I think it was right for a new government to look seriously at all the components of the deal.

“What we have decided is that for critical infrastructure generally we want to make sure our powers in this country are comparable to those of others, to be able to check that national security considerations are taken into account.”

“So what we have done here with Hinkley is require that EDF, the principal operator guarantees – makes a commitment – that they won’t dispose of their stake without the government’s consent unless and until the plant is built. And in future all nuclear power plants will be subject to the same regime.”

EDF Energy is also leading the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’ and is planning to build two other new nuclear power stations at Sizewell and Bradwell.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chief Executive, EDF Group, said: “The decision of the British Government to approve the construction of Hinkley Point C marks the relaunch of nuclear in Europe.

“It demonstrates the UK’s desire to lead the fight against climate change through the development of low carbon electricity. This decision demonstrates confidence in the EPR technology and in the world renowned expertise of the French nuclear industry.”

Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive of EDF Energy – the French holding company which owns and operates seven other UK nuclear plants in Scotland and England – added; “Today’s announcement is good news for British consumers, a huge boost for British industry and a major step forward in the fight against climate change.

“The strong performance of the EDF Energy’s 15 nuclear reactors underpins our credibility as a nuclear operator and developer in the UK. We will take the risk and responsibility to deliver Hinkley Point C and provide the UK with the reliable low carbon electricity it needs.

“The experience and expertise gained from restarting new nuclear build in the UK will help following projects be cheaper.”

EDF supplies gas and electricity to over five million customer accounts and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain.

It also operates 30 wind farms, two coal-fired stations, one gas station and two gas storage facilities, and is the UK’s largest generator of low carbon electricity, producing around a fifth of the UK’s power.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) welcomed the Government’s decision to press ahead with Hinkley Point C, providing a major boost for the UK’s nuclear industry.

This will be the first new power station to be built in the UK since Sizewell B in the 1990s, providing 7% of the UK’s electricity, powering more than six million homes and creating tens of thousands of new jobs. 

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association,commented: “The Prime Minister’s decision to agree to the Hinkley Point C contract is welcome news for the UK’s nuclear supply chain who are ready to deliver this important national infrastructure project, providing reliable, constant electricity as part of a balanced mix for the future. 

“The positive industrial impact of this project will be enormous with contracts already in place for Welsh steel, pumps made by Scottish companies and nuclear components from across England’s industrial belt.

“Hinkley is a truly national project which represents an array of opportunities for the supply chain and a secure foundation for the Government’s industrial strategy.”

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