Nick Butler: There is a place for new nuclear in the future energy mix and that place should not be limited to state controlled economies such as Russia and China. Nuclear can provide power free of emissions. The industry is safer than many others in the energy business. But nuclear has to win that place. It has to be competitive. The question is whether the industry is capable of responding to the challenge. Within the next month Simone Rossi will take over as the chief executive of EDF Energy in the UK. With the job comes responsibility for Britain’s first (and according to one of the energy industry’s leading players, perhaps last) new nuclear plant, Hinkley Point C. The plant is set to be one of the most expensive structures ever built, with the costs estimate pushed up again in July to £19.6bn. HPC is least eight years behind schedule (it was originally supposed to be providing the power to cook our Christmas turkeys this year) but is not expected to be commissioned before 2025, with the possibility that even that target won’t be met. Many in EDF, once a great company at the heart of the post-1945 reconstruction of France, see the project as an albatross. Control over EDF’s activities in the UK has been moved back to Paris. Despite all this Mr Rossi could still emerge as a hero. As a new arrival he can look again at the project and decide that instead of throwing good money after bad, it is time to call a halt and look for lower cost solutions. Abandoning HPC would be hugely popular in the UK, in Paris and among EDF’s long suffering shareholders. Such a decision would also help remove the reputation which the electricity retailers have earned for remoteness and arrogance in the face of consumer concerns. The move would help Anglo-Franco relations, which will matter as the Brexit process proceeds. Finding an alternative would restore confidence in the company and in existing energy policies which otherwise look to be broken. It could also help to restore the reputation and viability of the nuclear sector well beyond the UK and France.
FT 2nd Oct 2017 read more »
Doug Parr: Nuclear power is failing worldwide, it’s time for Hammond to back away. Across the world investors are turning their backs on the floundering nuclear industry – with good reason. Do the UK government’s sums on Hinkley and climate change add up any more? It must be hard being a civil servant. Think about the gyrations they must perform trying to justify the UK nuclear power programme.They cannot allow the mask of credibility to slip, otherwise government reasoning would be questioned, ministerial reputations would be damaged, and uncomfortable discussions about competence would need to be had. Like acrobats performing without a safety net, civil servants have to hold tight and maintain a look of calm poise, even with disaster looming.
Unearthed 29th Sept 2017 read more »