Austria is looking to appeal against a judgment passed by the European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg in July that the proposed 3.2GW Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK was within the European Union (EU) rules. Austrian Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger has made the country’s intentions clear of appealing against the order passed by the EU judge in a higher court. In an interview with Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, Koestinger has been quoted to have said: “Our lawyers have examined this in detail in the past weeks. We believe the chances of an appeal remain intact.” The Austrian Sustainability Ministry is expecting the cabinet to formally give its consent to file an appeal against the General Court ruling that rejected its arguments against the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, Reuters reported.
Compelo 4th Sept 2018 read more »
Nuclear power reveals the absurdity of Britain’s political economy. Hinkley Point C makes no sense, least of all for electricity consumers. The foreign companies building the nuclear power station, EDF and the China General Nuclear Power Group (CNG), are footing £20.3 billion in construction costs in exchange for a 35-year deal with the British government for a guaranteed price for electricity. This inflation-linked £92.50 per MWh is more than double the current market rate. The government accepts that energy prices will not rise to make this deal worthwhile. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy estimate that EDF and CNG will be paid £30 billion above the wholesale price of electricity. Why, then, is the project going ahead? Some analysts point towards the military – a civil nuclear power programme is needed to keep the nuclear submarine business afloat. It is not clear, however, why this leads to Hinkley Point C. Surely, a cheaper way to keep Britain’s nuclear submarine industry in business could be found, such as supporting small modular reactors. Perhaps Hinkley can be justified in terms of Britain’s need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Yet, such a noble desire does not neatly lead to new nuclear power stations. Renewables are already cheaper and increasingly so. Could the project be about jobs? Maybe in part, but not in any well-thought-through way. As the Committee of Public Accounts concluded, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy cannot say how, in precise terms, British companies and workers will benefit from Hinkley Point C. Throughout post-war British history, an irrational political economy guided nuclear power decisions. There is reason to think that this remains the case. Whereas nuclear power stations used to be built for the sake of a misguided economic nationalism, Hinkley Point C could well symbolise the absurdity of an uncritical economic liberalism – an atomic white elephant demonstrating the peculiar lengths the British government will go to attract Chinese investment. In 2015, Nick Timothy, then the director of the New Schools Network and future joint chief of staff to Theresa May, complained on Conservative Home that Hinkley Point C exposed a “desperate desire for Chinese trade and investment”. The deal seemingly silenced British criticism of human rights abuses and sidelined legitimate national security concerns about allowing China to build its own nuclear reactors in Britain. It is rather curious that despite the radical shift in Britain’s political economy over the past forty years, nuclear power is still capable of revealing its absurdities.
Open Democracy 4th Sept 2018 read more »