Ten years ago, when the British government first considered launching a new nuclear programme, Areva, the French nuclear technology company, said it could build reactors that would produce electricity profitably at £24 per megawatt-hour. It seemed an attractive proposition. Not only was this less than previous reactors, it was competitive with other power sources. New technology seemed to have opened the door to affordable carbonless electricity; Britain could meet its ever-tougher climate goals without shaking the public down. A decade on and a major nuclear accident later, the world knows better. Nuclear projects elsewhere have been scrapped and existing stations shuttered or scheduled for early closure. Meanwhile stringent regulations have exposed Areva’s promise as a chimera. It turns out that the price of new nuclear for Britain is not £24 per MWh but nearly four times as much. The French face several obstacles. First, there is the question of EDF’s balance sheet, groaning under a €37bn debt pile. The company’s share price has more than halved in the past year and its market capitalisation is now about €21bn. That is not much more than the company’s 67 per cent share of the cost of Hinkley C. Linked to this are worries about the reactor technology it is employing. The two projects under construction, including EDF’s at Flamanville in France, are delayed and over budget. It might be difficult to entice lenders while it is possible that problems with Flamanville might cause construction to be halted or scrapped. New nuclear might not be needed were the UK to rethink its costly promises and reduce its carbon targets to match those of other EU states. If new reactors are to be considered, however, they must be subjected to the rigours of competition. That is the only way to get the right technology at acceptable cost. Britain is saddled with the worst of all worlds. The government has effectively written the French a long-dated option to sell it unproven technology at an extremely generous price. Politically painful it may be, but the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute.