EDF to go ahead with new UK £18bn nuclear power plant

Perimeter landscaping around the site of the new Hinkley Point C power station
Perimeter landscaping around the site of the new Hinkley Point C power station

The French nuclear giant EDF has decided to proceed with the construction of a new £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset.

The board of the mostly-state-owned corporation voted in favour by 10 votes to seven. Earlier in the day, one director resigned in protest at the plan.

The construction of Hinkley Point C will create an estimated 25,000 jobs, with completion scheduled for 2025. It will provide 7% of Britain’s electricity, enough power for six million homes, for almost 60 years.

The UK government will be relieved at the decision which puts an end to a decade of stop-go process. But it will not end the political controversy over the government’s guarantee to pay  £92.50 per unit – more than double the current wholesale price for electricity – for 30 years.

However, it does represent a huge tick the political boxes marked ‘low-carbon’, ‘environment / climate-change’ and ‘security of supply’ –  thereby solving two of the three energy trilemmas, the un-resolved dilemma being ‘low prices’.

Tony Ward, Head of Power & Utilities at EY, commented: “This decision by EdF’s board is a major vote of confidence in the UK’s energy market, and in the vital role that new nuclear will play in delivering the UK’s low carbon aspirations.

“The decision to proceed with Hinkley is also a major fillip in terms of long-term highly skilled employment, supply chain opportunities, and economic improvement

“Investment decisions in major, nationally significant, infrastructure projects are rightly taken only after due care, scrutiny and challenge. In the case of Hinkley, its scale has also required the drawing together and commitment of EdF’s Chinese partners, and negotiation of appropriate support from the UK Government.

“We should recognise that the UK’s electricity system is changing rapidly, especially in the transition to a more distributed, diverse mix for our power generation. However the robustness and reliability of the system as a whole will still demand large-scale base-load power.

“This decision is the start of a process to replace some of the existing low-carbon nuclear capacity that the UK has already closed, and more that will close in the years to come.”

Juliet Davenport, OBE, Chief Executive of Good Energy – an independent supplier of 100%-renewably-generated electricity – said:

“Giving the go-ahead to Hinkley C is a bad move. It will take at least a decade to build and leave our grandchildren an inheritance of high energy costs, hazardous waste, environmental damage, and a plant that needs complex and costly decommissioning.”

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