News June 2016

30 June 2016

Hinkley

THE boss of French energy firm EDF says the Brexit vote will not make a difference to plans for an £18B nuclear power plant in Somerset. This is despite comments from several quarters casting doubt on whether the firm would continue to want to invest if Britain leaves the EU.

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Posted: 30 June 2016

29 June 2016

Hinkley

The French economy minister has heaped pressure on state-backed utility giant EDF to make a timely decision on its Hinkley Point project following the Brexit vote. Emmanuel Macron’s comments were made during a nuclear conference in Paris. He also warned that further delays to the final investment decision (FID) could add more uncertainty to the £18bn nuclear power plant. Experts had told City A.M. that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last week had plunged the nuclear power plant into a fresh wave of uncertainty, despite it being critical to the government’s energy plans. Asked whether Brexit could lead to it being scrapped, Angus Brendan MacNeil, chair of the energy and climate select committee, said: “Anything could happen … Hinkley is in a very different position this week than it was last week.”

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Posted: 29 June 2016

28 June 2016

Hinkley

The £18 billion project to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is likely to be cancelled because of the Brexit vote, according to an expert advising the government. Paul Dorfman said he believed it was “extremely unlikely” that EDF, the state-backed French energy company, would now proceed with the long-delayed project, which would generate a total of 7 per cent of UK electricity if built. He is an honorary senior research fellow at University College London’s Energy Institute and an adviser to the British government on nuclear issues. “My view is that it seems extremely unlikely now,” he told The Times. “It’s probably all over bar the shouting. How can EDF invest billions when there is so much uncertainty?” he said. Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, chairman of the Commons energy and climate select committee, also expressed doubts over Hinkley. The SNP MP said that the scheme was “bedevilled by uncertainty”. He said: “Until last week . . . EDF was investing in another EU member state. Now that is no longer the case.” Mr Dorfman said that the 10 per cent devaluation of sterling and the huge political uncertainties generated by the Brexit vote, and likely to continue for some time, are likely to present insurmountable obstacles for EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French government. He is a member of the European Nuclear Energy Forum and has served as a scientific adviser to the UK and Irish governments on nuclear issues as well as the European Environment Agency. He has also helped to produce guidance for the UK Department of Health. However, EDF insists that Britain’s decision to exit the EU will have no impact on its plans to construct the £18 billion twin-reactor station. Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear and energy industry analyst based in Paris, said that the Brexit vote would hand EDF “the perfect occasion to pull the plug on Hinkley Point without losing face”. He said that the Brexit vote represented a “disaster” for EDF’s plan and a decision to press ahead with Hinkley Point was unimaginable at the moment. John Sauven, director of Greenpeace, said that as well as “huge technical flaws and financial hurdles” the project faced “major political uncertainty which make delaying the Hinkley decision seem inevitable”. He added: “It is unlikely that a contract will be signed before a new prime minister is chosen, and leading candidate Boris Johnson has said the cost of Hinkley Point is a disgrace.”

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Posted: 28 June 2016

27 June 2016

Hinkley

EDF’s plans to build an £18bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset will be subject to a fresh wave of uncertainty following Brexit. EDF reiterated its commitment to the project, which has already suffered repeated delays, after Brits voted to leave the EU on Friday. But asked whether Brexit could lead to Hinkley being scrapped, Angus Brendan MacNeil, chair of the energy and climate select committee, said: “Anything could happen … Hinkley is in a very different position this week than it was last week.” “At the very least the final investment decision (FID) will again be kicked down the road … you can’t see the French committing billions to a country they thought was in the European Union and is no longer.” Peter Atherton, utilities analyst at Jefferies, said: “It’s yet another added complication in what’s already a very complicated process.” He added that if chancellor George Osborne, who is a strong supporter of the project, leaves the Treasury his replacement “might take a somewhat different view”.

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Posted: 27 June 2016

26 June 2016

Hinkley

Some are worried about the long-term consequences of turning inward, such as immigration policies and previously announced projects. On the electricity front, French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corp. are partners in a projected and slow-moving $26 billion nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point. French President Francois Hollande told several news outlets he was still in favor of going forward with Hinkley Point construction despite the British vote against the EU. Economic self-interest at least plays some role in Hollande’s affirmation, according to reports. “It’s very important to understand that we need a high-performance, highly secure nuclear industry in France, and that we cannot let others take over terrain, including on exports, that has been French up to now,” he was quoted as telling Europe 1 radio. EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy also expressed support for moving Hinkley Point forward despite several delays and the Brexit vote. The British are maintaining their goal of de-carbonizing their energy output, he noted.

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Posted: 26 June 2016

25 June 2016

Hinkley

French EDF’s main labour union said on Friday that the utility should delay the final investment decision on its 18 billion pound ($24 billion) project to build a nuclear plant in Hinkley Point in southern England after Britons voted to quit the European Union. The project is one of the largest French investment projects in Britain and a final investment decision has been repeatedly delayed since it was first announced in Oct. 2013. “Brexit brings another element of uncertainty which reinforces our position that the project should be delayed,” CGT energy and mining federation spokeswoman Marie-Claire Cailletaud said. CGT and EDF’s other unions have argued for months that the state-owned firm should delay its investment decision on the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor project until a similar reactor under construction in France is in operation and not before EDF has sufficiently strengthened is stretched balance sheet. “Let us wait until the industrial, social, financial and political environment has stabilised so that this project can get under way in good conditions. This really adds a political element to the decision,” Cailletaud added.

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Posted: 25 June 2016

24 June 2016

Hinkley

French state-controlled utility EDF declined to comment on whether or not it would go ahead with its 18 billion pound ($24.11 billion) project to build a nuclear plant in Hinkley Point in southern England after Britons voted on Friday to quit the European Union. The project is one of the largest French investment projects in Britain and a final investment decision has been repeatedly delayed since it was first announced in Oct. 2013. Before the Brexit vote, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron had said that the decision would be taken by September.

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Posted: 24 June 2016

23 June 2016

Hinkley

EDF’s workers’ committee has turned to the French courts in an attempt to further delay the group’s £18bn project to build Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Last month, the French utility company had been due to give final approval for going ahead with Hinkley Point. But, a month earlier, this process was put on hold when the workers committee demanded to be consulted on the decision. After its intervention in April, the committee – which is an official body within EDF made up largely of union members – was given three months, until July 4, to say if it would support the project or not. However, this week, the committee filed a legal claim – seen by the Financial Times – alleging that EDF has “refused” to give them key documents and so they “cannot form a clear view on the issue”. Jean-Luc Magnaval, secretary of the EDF workers ‘ committee, confirmed the legal move and told the FT: “We do not have all the documents necessary to come to an opinion.” “Even if the judges force EDF to give us all the documents tomorrow, it will still be tight to come up with an informed opinion by July 4, so we are also asking for more time,” he explained. EDF said in a statement it had “supplied fully comprehensive information on the project to enable employee representatives to participate in meaningful discussions with management.” Any decision from the workers’ committee is non-binding, and so EDF can push ahead with Hinkley Point regardless. But, legally, EDF has to at least wait for the committee’s opinion before proceeding. A majority of the EDF unions now want to delay any commitment to the Hinkley Point project, in part because the EPR reactor technology that will be used is still untested, with no working example in the world.

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Posted: 23 June 2016

22 June 2016

Hinkley

In 2006, the British government launched a policy to build nuclear power reactors based on a claim that the power produced would be competitive with fossil fuel and would require no public subsidy. A decade later, it is not clear how many, if any, orders will be placed and the claims on costs and subsidies have proved false. Despite this failure to deliver, the policy is still being pursued with undiminished determination. The finance model that is now proposed is seen as a model other European countries can follow so the success or otherwise of the British nuclear programme will have implications outside the UK. This paper that the checks and balances that should weed out misguided policies, have failed. It argues that the most serious failure is with the civil service and its inability to provide politicians with high quality advice – truth to power. It concludes that the failure is likely to be due to the unwillingness of politicians to listen to opinions that conflict with their beliefs. Other weaknesses include the lack of energy expertise in the media, the unwillingness of the public to engage in the policy process and the impotence of Parliamentary Committees.

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Posted: 22 June 2016

21 June 2016

Hinkley

The outcome of Thursday’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will not affect the final investment decision on Hinkley Point C, according to EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz. “The absolute need for [Hinkley] will remain regardless of the outcome of the vote, and politicians on both sides of the debate recognise this,” said De Rivaz in a letter to employees.

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Posted: 21 June 2016