Your independent energy adviser
0800 051 5770

Hinkley Point C faces further delay

nuclear powerLike a cross continent soap opera, the saga of Hinkley Point C continues.

The investment deal to secure development of the first new build nuclear power plant in a generation has again been put back, this time to October 2015, as negotiations continue with their potential partners.

Ed Davey, the secretary of state for energy and climate change late last year promised that a decision was due in “weeks, or months” but that is no longer the case.

The negotiating hard ball tactics adopted by the Chinese consortium are centred on their requiring of commitments from the French government to bail out reactor developer Areva, if its financial positions worsen, and to cover the cost of any project overruns.

The Chinese are also demanding that EDF Energy transfers to them a site, at Bradwell in Essex, where they intend to build a reactor to their own design. Indeed this is seen by many as the sole reason for their interest in backing the much delayed Hinkley Point C.

The project had been promised to receive the go-ahead in July 2014 but the £16bn investment remains in hiatus much to the chagrin of Tim Yeo, chairman of the Commons energy and climate change select committee. Yeo said:

“I’m disappointed by the further delay and hope it can be resolved quickly.”

With half an eye on the ever diminishing roster of power stations available in the UK past 2023, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has meanwhile given approval for Sizewell B to continue operation through to 2015.

Sizewell B’s station director Jim Crawford revealed the hurdles :

“It takes five years of planning and 200 people from within and outside the business to scrutinise every area of Sizewell B to ensure it meets current standards of operation.”

Indeed Sizewell are already looking at a further extension to their operating schedule out to 2035 and in so doing safeguarding supply to some 2 million customers for the next 20 years.

With EDF Energy’s Dungeness B plant’s life also being extended out to 2028 the paucity of future generation coverage is slowly being addressed.

That it needs to be is not in doubt. That Hinkley Point C will be part of the solution however still is very much in the balance.