Judith Perera, Leonard Sanford
EDF has warned that a final investment decision for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK will be delayed while talks with investors continue. A revised timetable for construction of the plant may be necessary, and if so it will be announced when the FID has been decided. EDF has been working to arrange finance for the project and hopes to secure Chinese funds when premier Xi Jin Ping visits London in October. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The UK government and EDF are continuing to work together to finalise the project. The deal must represent value for money and is subject to approval by ministers."
The Unite trade union called on Energy Secretary Amber Rudd to press potential investors to make a decision. "Business and domestic consumers face the very real prospect of power cuts and the lights going out in the years to come, if the final investment decision on Hinkley Point is not made very soon," said national officer Kevin Coyne. "This delay is very bad news for the UK as energy capacity is very stretched at present, as we have lost energy resources in recent years as old coal-fired stations are phased out."
Garry Graham of the Prospect trade union, said: "The delay, while no surprise to those working in energy, shows we need action to support nuclear new build now. Our existing nuclear fleet is the largest contributor to low-carbon base-load generation, but it is reaching the end of its operational life at the same time as more coal plant comes offline."
Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF CEO, insisted that he had "full confidence in the success of the Hinkley Point project" but gave no date for when the station might start generating electricity.
EDF said in 2013 that it planned for Hinkley to be operating by 2023, subject to an FID in July 2014. But no decision has yet been taken, following a protracted EU state aid inquiry and extended negotiations with the UK government over subsidies and with Chinese investment partners.
M. Levy also disclosed that the FID would be based only on EDF and Chinese investment, since the project has failed to secure deals with other potential investment partners. EDF had planned to retain only a 45-50% stake in Hinkley, with China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation taking a combined stake of 30-40%. Areva was expected to take 10% and other "interested parties" the balance of up to 15%. But financially troubled Areva has been forced it to sell its nuclear business to EDF, and Levy said that no other investors would be confirmed by the time of the FID.
The Hinkley project could now be overtaken by other proposed new builds such as the NuGen consortium's Moorside NPP in Cumbria, which plans first power by the end of 2024, and developer Horizon's NPP at Wylfa on Anglesey, which plans first power in the first half of the 2020s.
-EDF has been widely quoted in the UK press as saying construction of the plant will be delayed, and will not therefore meet the planned start-up date of 2023. This was an interpretation of remarks by EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy at a press conference in France on 3 September during which he said "Even though the final investment decision has been pushed back from the initial forecasts, the construction time will stay the same, which means that the commissioning date will be updated at the point when the final investment decision (FID) is made." However EDF has denied any delay, saying that the reports have been misinterpreted.