EDF's board of directors will meet on 28 July and make the final investment decision on whether to build two reactors at Hinkley Point in the UK.
EDF has announced that its board of directors will meet on 28 July and will make the final investment decision on whether to build two reactors at Hinkley Point in the UK. EDF had said in April that it was delaying a final decision while it consulted with trade unions. The company has repeatedly delayed making a final decision on the project because of concerns about its £18bn cost.
In the announcement it said: “The two reactors at Hinkley Point would strengthen EDF’s presence in Britain, a country where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the largest electricity supplier by volume.”
The company added that the project, known as Hinkley Point C, “is a unique asset for French industry as it would benefit the whole of the nuclear industry and support employment in major companies and smaller enterprises in the sector”.
The UK’s business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, said: “New nuclear is an essential part of our plan for a secure, clean and affordable energy system that will power the economy throughout this century. This is a welcome decision from EDF, and we look forward to the outcome.” The UK government has long argued that the nuclear plant is a crucial part of the UK’s future energy mix as coal and older nuclear plants are shut down.
However in June EDF told UK members of parliament that the company should postpone the Hinkley Point project until it had solved a series of problems with the reactor design and multibillion-euro lawsuits over delays on similar schemes. French unions have raised concerns about the cost of building the power station, while UK unions have strongly backed the project, mainly for its promise of job creation.
It is due to be completed by 2025, a timetable that looks somewhat unrealistic given that reactors of the same EPR design being built in Finland (Olkiluoto 3) and France (Flamanville 3) are running years behind schedule and with huge cost overruns.
Commenting on the announcement, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:
"It's right that the UK should remain open for business but handing billions of energy bill payers money over to the French Government for an outdated technology makes no business sense. A possible final investment decision [next week] will only show that high-level post-truth politics trumps good sense. The type of reactor EDF wants to build at Hinkley hasn’t yet been shown to work.
"For UK bill payers, the rationale for a massively over-priced power station like Hinkley has long since disappeared but all the key players are too embarrassed to stop it. This project is already over budget and behind schedule – a delay which could leave the UK with a serious power gap. Theresa May's government should stop a project that will fleece the millions of ordinary folks she has pledged to stand up for."