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Is Hinkley rethink good or bad for state of UK energy infrastructure?

August 5th, 2016

The decision to postpone approval for Hinkley Point C taken by the government last week is not a stabilising one. British hesitance on the matter seems to contradict assertions that the country remains ‘open for business’ despite leaving the European Union.

However, there are reasons to be positive about the new government’s likely approach to infrastructure in general and an early nuclear hiccough should not result in foreign investor panic – yet.

In an article written before the Brexit referendum, ACE’s Chief Executive Officer, Nelson Ogunshakin suggested that infrastructure decisions shape the way the outside world perceives us. He pointed out specifically that initiatives in our energy sector, such as Hickley Point C, have instrumental and symbolic benefits in equal measure. His conclusion was that the decisions we make on power generating infrastructure build our national identity, not just our energy security.

If committing to projects such as Hinkley Point C gave the UK ‘an opportunity to embrace our stated values of openness and internationalism’, as Ogunshakin said previously, what does apparent reluctance towards fulfilling such commitments symbolise? If whole-heartedly (and perhaps uncritically) launching ourselves into these projects sent one message, then May government’s approach is beginning to articulate a slightly different side of the British psyche that has its own strengths.

The decision on whether or not to go ahead with the reactor had been yo-yoing for quite some time. Hinkley’s construction would have involved the cooperation of the British, French and Chinese governments, with the only barrier supposedly remaining being the formal sign off from the French government backed energy giant EDF. In the context of protest by unions, a CFO resigning over the project and serious concern from shareholders, EDF decided to take a risk and push on with the project. Then, having emerged from the meeting triumphant, EDF’s executives had their faithful investment in Britain dashed by a government press release signalling a decision in the early autumn.

Although the Hinkley delay is a disappointment, we should not make a pessimistic mountain of a frustrating - albeit nuclear - molehill. First, it is important to understand this decision (or the postponing of a decision) in its context. Hinkley Point has taken over a decade to get this far – in 2007, Vincent de Rivas, then EDF’s top man in the UK said that Christmas turkeys would be roasted in ovens powered by Hinkley as soon as 2017.

By contrast, the current government has been in power for under a month. It could be argued that an expectation for the government to push ahead with an £18 billion project even before ministers’ feet are comfortably under desks is somewhat unreasonable.

Second, the government is systemically building institutions that should be capable of making these kinds of decisions more efficiently and effectively. This change in focus is marked by the inception of a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as a cabinet committee focused on industrial strategy that will be attended by 10 secretaries of state. Indeed, the previous government set up the National Infrastructure Commission, which will independently audit existing assets and recommend improvements over the long term. Clearly the government is pushing an emphasis on ‘industrial strategy’, as well as infrastructure provision as a part of that strategy.

Most notably, the measures above seem to eclipse the previous government’s rhetorical commitment to a ‘long-term economic plan’, characterised in large part by an unwavering vow that government must target a surplus in budgets instead of running a deficit. This policy culminated in a strengthening of the ‘fiscal charter’ to make what was previously a principle into a legal requirement.

However, the new Chancellor has hinted that the Autumn Statement will reveal a loosening of government purse string and that an increase in the budget deficit to pay for infrastructure improvements would be acceptable. The majority of commentators characterised the fiscal charter as both a public relations master stroke and an irresponsible economic straightjacket. Though it is difficult to know how the change will register with the public, the recent change in direction will likely make for more comfortable economic garb.

Finally, more than simply a general interest in ‘spending more’, the government does seem to be honouring most of the specific projects that the previous administration was committed to. An important first test came in late June, when the government needed to pass the recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change’s fifth carbon budget, which it did without protest. Ministers with portfolios directly tied to infrastructure programmes have been maintained – with one minister, Andrew Percy of the Department of Communities and Local Government, even having ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in his job title. Continuing assurance on HS2 is also encouraging.

In sum, despite the temptation to see the Hinkley indecision as indicative of a Britain closed for business, the correct interpretation of recent events is that of a considered and hard-headed government unwilling to be shackled by previous government decrees but keen to give certainty where possible.

Perhaps this new vision of Britain is not one of assumed foreign investment and openness by default, but one characterised by stability and a confidently pragmatic core.

Vattenfall lignite sale comes under EU state aid microscope

August 5th, 2016

Attempts by Sweden’s state-owned power giant Vattenfall to offload its German lignite coal power operations appear to have been stalled at  EU level, according to reports in Germany.

A Vattenfall spokesperson told German media on Thursday that the sale to Czech utility EPH has been delayed and further reports from Germany today have stated that the European Commission is analysing the sale's legality under state aid regulations.

A Vattenfall spokesperson told Power Engineering International, "We still expect a closing of the deal in fall 2016, despite the approval process with the antitrust authority of the EU commission not proceeding in such a speedy manner as initially planned. In general we see no real issues."

The Swedish government-controlled utility agreed to sell its lignite assets in Germany in April because it wants to focus on renewables and cut exposure to fossil fuels. EPH, which already operates other lignite mines and power stations in Germany, said it expects the unit to become profitable as the country winds down its nuclear industry over the next six years and electricity prices start to recover.

Vattenfall sold the lignite operations for a symbolic price and will pay EPH a billion euro premium for the obligations of renaturalising former mines.

That the deal is merely being delayed is not a view shared by all observers.

Environmental law specialist ClientEarth have reacted to the news, with lawyer Ken Huestebeck telling Power Engineering International, "There has been a deplorable lack of transparency around the sale. The information we do have indicates EU state aid rules were not followed carefully enough. If this turns out to be true, it would be unlawful to close the deal.”

It now appears that the Swedish government will have to re-examine its legal obligations over the deal and the European Commission could issue an injunction if it believes a breach has occurred. Competitors that lost out at the time could also force the issue.
Lippendorf coal power plant
A month ago, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Lövin justified her government‘s approval by saying there simply was no formal reason to block the deal.

Huestebeck says the action at EU level suggests that there are bigger risks than the Swedish government had admitted, and the divestment could betray not only Sweden’s climate ambitions but also its fiscal responsibility by engaging in this complex deal.

“In the worst case, Swedish taxpayers risk paying a triple bill: first, by providing the buyer EPH with billions of Euros to agree to the sale; second, by having to pay fines levied on Sweden which Sweden may find tough to recover from EPH if the state aid is eventually found not to comply with European law; and third, when global climate change materially affects Sweden and rest of the world.”

“If the Swedish government is not entirely sure about compliance with state aid rules, how can its citizens and the people in the affected German regions be expected to trust that it has considered all their legitimate concerns?”

Apple approved to enter power market

August 5th, 2016

Apple has won permission from federal regulators to sell excess electricity that is generated by three of its major solar projects.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, on Thursday approved an application from Apple’s energy subsidiary to sell electricity in six regional power markets around the country at market rates.Apple building

The move into outright selling of energy follows on from the company’s efforts in recent years to supply its data centers with renewable power. One example of that is the $850m spent last year on a 130 MW solar farm near San Francisco.

Apple also owns 20 MW of generation in the Nevada Power Company service area and 50 MW in the Salt River Project service area in Arizona, according to the FERC order. All of Apple’s data centers are now powered by renewables.

In granting approval, the commission determined the company did not raise the risk of being able to unfairly hike up power prices.

The iPhone maker is among a group of companies investing in energy projects in a bid to tackle global warming and cut electric bills. Google, Microsoft Corp. and Inc. are backing wind turbines and solar farms to power their operations and lower their carbon footprint.

Hinkley Point C and its implications for the future of the power sector

August 4th, 2016

The delay in the Government’s decision on Hinkley Point C is the latest example of how changes and uncertainty in policy direction are continuing to have a serious and unprecedented impact on important energy sector investment decisions.

In the renewable sector, the past two years have seen levels of solar capacity growth explode due to accelerated deadlines for subsidies. This has led to two decades of expected build-out coming over the space or approximately two years, while support for onshore wind farms have now been almost entirely cut, creating unstable booms and busts within the renewable industry.

Away from renewables, a similar pattern has been emerging for small distributed generators - designed to keep the lights on during cold windless spells - with numerous projects unsure which otherwise expected and currently active income streams they will still be able to earn, and which will be removed from under their feet in the coming years, making it hard for investors to back these schemes.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, new minister for energy
Meanwhile, large power stations have seen CCS schemes that were continuing as planned, ended due to the surprise cancellation of a £1bn scheme. This left projects that had been progressing well with no viable future, when CCS would otherwise have potentially allowed the continued operation of some of these large stations into a low carbon future and providing reliable low carbon power.

As the UK energy market evolves, there is a need to progress the system towards a more flexible and efficient approach that can work around low cost renewables with smart power solutions such as energy storage and demand flexibility.

The combination of renewables and increases in storage capability, due to the development of heat networks and collapsing battery costs, could be the key to a flexible and efficient market. If complemented by nuclear plants this could provide a diversified fuel mix.

Right now the greatest issue in the market is managing the levels of uncertainty on-going within the power system. Whether nuclear should or shouldn’t be part of the fuel mix, the back and forth over whether projects will or won’t get agreements is affecting the wider industry.

Ahead of the 2016 Capacity Mechanism auction we already have projects bidding in that do not have 100 per cent visibility or clarity over whether their revenue streams will persist into the future or not and this is creating unprecedented uncertainty.

Hopefully with a final decision on Hinkley Point C, the market can start to plan ahead for a more certain future and with the changed government we can only hope that levels of clarity within the industry can rise.

On balance, EnAppSys believes that Hinkley C is likely to proceed, but that this might come despite no long-term framework for nuclear and no clear fuel mix or structural expectations for our power system whilst technology developments will drive the market in unexpected directions over the medium term.

Hinkley Point C may yet go ahead and still be the last new nuclear built in GB as other projects look to avoid the difficulties it has encountered or if the subsidy regime changes once again, as has been the case for other technologies such as wind and solar.

For obvious reasons, there is a clear advantage to power sources that can be commanded to turn on and off in a reliable manner, but the erratic approach taken towards subsidies has not helped the industry as a whole.

It might have been, and still might be, more prudent to have run a competition that would achieve reliable clean power generation that can satisfy criteria such as coming on when required and delivering a required power shape, but in a low carbon manner.

This would have allowed nuclear to compete against CCS projects and renewable/storage/demand response combinations and could have demonstrated that nuclear was indeed the most optimal approach to delivering clean and reliable energy.

At the end of the day if Hinkley Point does not go ahead, then it will be these sorts of projects that will be required to ensure stable and clean generation into the future; ensuring security, sustainability and affordability as part of meeting the government’s Energy Trilemma.

The challenge for market participants and investors at the moment is that what is given out with one hand seems to be taken away with the other, with no clear idea of where the next cut or subsidy is likely to fall. Right now the industry is not able to point out the long-term technology that will win, instead it can only chase the next wave being created by government policy.

The government (whose energy department is now headed by Baroness Neville-Rolfe (above)) needs to decide whether it wants the market to decide or pick winners itself and then not change its mind. The current situation, compounded by Brexit, is that the only certainty is uncertainty and in that case there is a distinct possibility that capital will look elsewhere than the UK electricity market.

EnAppSys is an independent energy specialist company that provides electricity and energy market data, systems and consultancy services to parties with an interest in the UK energy market.

1,792 MW combined-cycle power plant set for Bahrain

August 4th, 2016

GE and GAMA Consortium have been awarded a contract to build a 1,792MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant as part of the Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) project.

The contract is part of Aluminium Bahrain’s Line 6 expansion project, which is expected to make Alba the largest single-site smelter in the world.
GE 9HA gas turbine
Energy Business Review reports that GE and GAMA Consortium will design, engineer, procure, construct and commission the power plant, which will have an efficiency of 54 per cent.

For the project, which is also known as Power Station 5, GE will supply three 9HA gas turbines, three steam turbines and three high recovery steam generators (HRSGs).

Alba board of directors chairman Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Bin Daij Al Khalifa said: “Alba is progressing on schedule and we look forward to the commissioning of PS 5 which will be the largest and most efficient power station in Bahrain and first power station with H-class gas turbine technology in the Gulf region.”

Scheduled to be commissioned in early 2019, Line 6 project is expected to increase Alba’s annual production by 540,000t, to reach 1,500,000t.

Fresh threats to Hinkley Point as opposition hardens

August 2nd, 2016

French unions could derail the decision by EDF to approve a final investment decision of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on the basis that board members were given scant time to read the volumes of information associated with the project.

A legal challenge is now in the offing after board members complained to the media that Jean-Bernard Lévy, the head of EDF gave his fellow board members only two days to read 2,500 pages of contracts before agreeing to proceed with the Hinkley Point nuclear power project last week.
JB Levy
That the UK government decided to delay its decision to go ahead at the eleventh hour has enabled a fresh challenge from union interests who say members were pressurised into approval. They say they were leaned on to support it on the basis that the UK government was fully supportive.

They are now bringing a legal challenge against the company’s final investment decision, the first part of which will be heard this Tuesday.  If the first claim is successful, the investment decision will be considered void until a second hearing on September 22. On that second occasion, the EDF works council will say they were not provided with important documents, such as the contracts with the British government, in enough time.

France regards the deal to build two new reactors in Somerset as key to providing work to its own nuclear power sector but the matter will be shelved until the delayed British decision is finally announced at the end of August.

Meanwhile matters have been compounded by reaction emerging from China to the rationale behind the postponement.

China will not tolerate "unwanted accusations" about its investments in the UK after the delay of the Hinkley nuclear power project, the country's state-run news agency has said.

Xinhua said it could not understand the "suspicious approach that comes from nowhere to Chinese investment".

The news agency was reacting to reports that the new government was suspicious of Chinese intentions and the UK was motivated by national security interests.

“China cannot tolerate any unwanted accusation against its sincere and benign willingness for win-win cooperation".

Nuclear interests have expressed concern that the government decision postponement threatens the industry’s chances of developing new nuclear, a key component in the country’s means of hitting emissions targets and keeping the lights on.

National Grid, the company that runs Britain’s electricity network, has said the country’s climate commitments are achievable without a major increase in new nuclear — but only if carbon capture and storage technology is developed on a large scale instead. Last November, George Osborne, the previous chancellor, cancelled a £1bn competition to help companies to develop that technology amid concerns it was too expensive.

EDF sells of share in French grid for an estimated $7bn

July 29th, 2016

In an attempt to improve its balance sheet as it prepares to invest in its nuclear power business, EDF has agreed to sell 49 per cent of grid unit RTE to CDC-Le Monde.

The French state-controlled utility EDF has agreed to sell the stake in its high voltage power grid unit business according Le Monde, with the plan officially presented to the board today.
RTE logo
The price on which EDF and CDC have agreed is not known but it corresponds to a value of around $7bn (6- 7 billion euros), the newspaper reported, although EDF did not comment.

Reuters reports that the sale could be part of a 10 billion euro asset sale plan with which EDF hopes to shore up its balance sheet and raise funds to invest in nuclear plants in France and Britain.

Legal objections to decision facilitating Hinkley Point C remain

July 29th, 2016

Countries legally objecting to a European Commission decision to facilitate the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK are determined to pursue their case, despite the news of Hinkley Point C being approved by owners EDF to go ahead.

Meanwhile, as the fall-out from last night's events continue, former energy secretary Ed Davey has reminded Power Engineering International that he won a better strike price than then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne agreed to, when negotiating the now much scrutinised deal with EDF.

The Commission judgement (in relation to the UK’s guarantee to pay EDF £92.50 per MWh for power generated by Hinkley C not breaching state aid rules), is just one facet of the ongoing debate amid reaction to the EDF board decision to go forward with the project.

To complicate matters further the government subsequently announced its intention to delay its consent while it again re-visits the detail.
European Court
Alexandra Perl, press spokesperson at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy told Power Engineering International, “The EDF-decision does not change our position. Besides that, there is no new development. Austria has filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice and is now waiting for the further development.”

Olaf Munichsdorfer, top advisor to the Luxembourg ministry of environment, when asked by this website if his government would continue to oppose the facilitating of nuclear power, provided just a one word answer - “Yes”.

Top Austrian lawyer Reinhard Schanda, a partner at the Vienna-based law firm Sattler & Schanda, is also adamant on his government’s stance.

“No Austrian government could withdraw that challenge without risking to lose many voters,” he said. “Austrians are strongly convinced that nuclear power plants are irresponsible to future generations and block the transition to renewable generation, particularly when they are being subsidised on an obscene level.”

It is just one strand to an ever more convoluted circus that has dogged the project’s every move over the last decade.

The British government caught the world unawares last night with its announcement that it would be taking time out to consider the deal and would not be making its position clear until early autumn. According to some commentators, this may lead to an attempt to reduce the price being paid for the electricity or reduce Chinese influence in the country’s energy sector, a necessary by-product (in return for investment) accepted by the previous administration, but not this one led by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

George Osborne, the former chancellor, told his Chinese hosts last year that their investment in Hinkley Point could lead the way to Beijing building its own reactors in Britain, including Bradwell in Essex. Mrs May, a former home secretary, repeatedly raised security concerns about Chinese investment with cabinet colleagues, adding to the tensions between her and Mr Osborne in cabinet.

The FT’S George Parker reports, “Although the feeling inside government is that Mrs May will still authorise the construction of Hinkley Point C, her suspicion over Chinese involvement could throw new doubts over the project.”

“If Beijing were to get the signal from London that it was no longer welcome to build its own nuclear power stations in the UK, China might question whether its involvement in the risky project still made sense.”

The divisions between the coalition partners in the last UK government are also clearly evident. Mr Osborne’s father-in- law Lord Howell, a former Conservative energy minister, asserted on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme yesterday that Hinkley Point C is a bad idea that came about primarily due to the Liberal Democrats being in charge of the country’s energy portfolio, when the process of delivering the project accelerated.

Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, who was energy secretary during that crucial period, took exception to that view, telling Power Engineering International, “Lord Howell should know from basic political history that the Conservatives have always been the cheerleaders for nuclear power, not the Liberal Democrats.”

“Moreover, Lord Howell could also ask his son-in-law, George Osborne, why he was so enthusiastic about Hinkley Point C, that he was willing to agree to a higher price than I managed to secure.”

“Lord Howell's statement is similar to the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump in its connection with the truth and integrity,” Mr Davey added.

If the issues afflicting the project came down to price alone, there may be less doubts about its merit  but the polarity of opinion even extends to the nuclear sector itself regarding the correct technology to use, particularly with the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) designated for Hinkley being so far unproven.

RELATED: World Nuclear Association defends EPR technology

Dr Ian Scott, CEO of Moltex Energy told PEi, “The enormous subsidies that have been offered for Hinkley C, with a strike price that will more than double to £240 if the Government reaches its inflation target, ignore new nuclear technologies that are intrinsically safer, cheaper, more flexible, and easier to build. The subsidy cost has quadrupled in the last 3 years to £30 billion. It could easily double again, as global technology innovation drives prices down.

“Positively, the government is already exploring alternative nuclear technologies through its Small Modular Reactor competition. There are massive opportunities here that must be pursued. For instance, the Stable Salt Reactor is a UK-developed technology that can produce electricity at a third of the Hinkley C strike price, can store energy at grid scale - catalysing the further rollout of renewables – and can be powered by the country’s existing nuclear waste.”

Despite differences of opinion on technology, it is price that is the overriding concern.

Although EDF and Chinese partner China General Nuclear are responsible for the up-front costs of the project, Britain has committed to pay a price twice current market levels for the power generated by the plant.

Market intelligence specialists said at the time the original Hinkley strike price was announced in October 2013 the ICIS Power Index (IPI) averaged £52.30/MWh.

“Since then, wholesale energy prices have fallen, as the price of crude oil has come down with oversupply, and the impact of more renewable generation continues to be felt. Prices hit a nine-year low in January this year, with the IPI falling to around £33.50/MWh.”

Since then, gas and power prices have recovered with the increasing oil price, and concerns over gas storage availability – the IPI is currently around £44.00/MWh.

“However, energy prices remain volatile, and electricity from Hinkley will not be delivered until around 2025 at the earliest – the long build period for nuclear plants means that market values (and therefore the level of the top-up payment) could look very different by the time the UK begins to pay.”

The new prime minister, in speeches following her appointment, has consistently pointed out that she wants a fairer society and the prospect of burdening tax payers with possibly unnecessary energy bills is bound to be a sticking point.

The difficulty for the project’s supporters is that EDF’s board carried the decision to approve by a tight margin and rolling back on the strike price might persuade that decision to be reversed, resulting in Hinkley Point C never being built.

Prof. Tooraj Jamasb, Chair in Energy Economics at Durham University Business School and Co-Director, Durham Energy Institute (DEI) believes Mrs May could be playing a chess match, with Brexit lurking in the shadows.

“Having a new government in place offers an opportunity to revisit the merits of the project while being less bound to commitments of the previous government. It is also possible that the government may want to use the project as a card in its post-Brexit negotiation to soften the French stance on trade deals.”

“The new government has not had time to develop a new coherent energy policy but the main alternative to Hinkley is, in the medium term, more combined cycle gas turbine generation which may require revisiting the carbon emission targets.”

Josh Hardie, the Confederation of Business Industry’s Deputy Director-General, said he understands the government wanting to get to grips with the details of the Hinkley contract, but warned, “it must press ahead to finalise the deal as soon as possible.”

“The UK is facing a major investment challenge to ensure a secure, low-carbon and affordable energy supply. It’s crucial that we see clear and timely decisions, and send a definite message that the UK is well and truly open for business.”

“In particular, clarity is needed around the next Contracts for Difference auction and the post-2020 Levy Control Framework, to build investor confidence.”

Despite the complexities involved; the price, the reliability of the technology and the environmental perspective – the fact remains that Britain has, with ongoing power plant closures and greater demand, a looming power shortage that it needs to fill. Whether that opens the door for alternative nuclear, gas-fired power, more renewables, greater energy efficiency initiatives or a more clearly defined combination of all, remains to be seen.

EDF board approves final investment decision for UK nuclear power plant

July 28th, 2016

EDF’s board of directors has majority approved a final investment decision to go ahead with the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in, Somerset, southwestern England.

According to France Info and other French media sources, the project has been officially launched thanks to 10 votes in favour of proceeding, with seven against.

Earlier news emerged that one board director, Gerard Magnin, had resigned from the board in protest against the riskiness of going ahead with the project, as well as the continuing prioritisation of nuclear power by the company, at the expense of renewables.

The project was first announced as a prospect in 2008 and has had to overcome a great number of obstacles to reach this juncture.

The construction costs for the plant are set to top £18bn and on completion will provide 7 per cent of the country’s electricity. Hinkley Point C will be powered by two 1.6GW EPR nuclear reactor units. It will be the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK for more than 20 years and once built will operate for 60 years.

EPR reactors are an evolution of the pressurised water reactor technology as used at Sizewell B and in 58 nuclear reactors owned by EDF in France. They have enhanced safety features with quadruple safety systems. They are more efficient and produce less long-lived radioactive waste compared with existing water reactors. They also use less uranium.

The UK is facing a critical time in its energy future. By 2025 over 40 per cent of the UK’s older power stations are expected to close while demand for electricity is expected to rise. While the need for new capacity such as what the Hinkley project offers is acute, detractors point to the strike price agreed to fund the project and argue that a mix of gas and renewables or smaller modular nuclear reactors as well as energy efficiency measures might be more suitable and less expensive.

The UK government has guaranteed a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour for the electricity Hinkley produces for 35 years - more than double the current price. But the cost of wholesale energy has fallen since the price was agreed, leaving the government to make up the difference.

The UK's National Audit Office estimated future top-up payments would rise from £6.1bn to £29.7bn over the length of the contract.

Recently, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the scheme was "still worth the cost", with the Government suggesting that customers' bills would rise by about £10 once the plant was up and running.Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant

Despite concerns about cost the plant does complement the government’s low carbon energy strategy.

Strong challenges have however been made by Austria and Luxembourg to the project and now that the final investment decision has been made it remains unclear if those countries legal teams will be engaged in continuing to resist the completion of the plant.

The European Pressurised Reactors to be used have also come in for great scrutiny as despite costly over-runs in both France and Finland it has not yet been shown to function fully on a commercial basis.

If the project can fend off any further challenges or complications, Hinkley Point C will power 5.8 million homes and create 25,000 jobs. The power station was originally meant to open next year but that date has now been projected forward to 2025.

Tony Ward, Head of Power & Utilities at EY, told Power Engineering International, “Today’s announcement by EdF’s board is a major vote of confidence in the UK’s energy market, and in the vital role that new nuclear will play in delivering the UK’s low carbon aspirations. The decision to proceed with Hinkley is also a major fillip in terms of long-term highly skilled employment, supply chain opportunities, and economic improvement in the local West Country region.

“Investment decisions in major, nationally significant, infrastructure projects are rightly taken only after due care, scrutiny and challenge.  In the case of Hinkley, its scale has also required the drawing together and commitment of EdF’s Chinese partners, and negotiation of appropriate support from the UK Government.

“We should recognise that the UK’s electricity system is changing rapidly, especially in the transition to a more distributed, diverse mix for our power generation. However the robustness and reliability of the system as a whole will still demand large-scale base-load power. Today’s announcement is the start of a process to replace some of the existing low carbon nuclear capacity that the UK has already closed, and more that will close in the years to come.

“Much preparatory work has already been done, with many contractors and partners in place. The challenge now shifts from getting the project structured to that of delivering to time and cost.”

EDF board member resigns ahead of crucial nuclear vote

July 28th, 2016

An EDF board member has opted to resign ahead of a vote expected today on whether to go ahead with the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in England.

One of 18 board members, Gerard Magnin comes from a renewable energy background and he hadEDF become disillusioned when EDF decided to continue to prioritise nuclear ahead of renewables. He also felt the £18bn Hinkley project was too risky and jeopardised the survival of the company.

"As a board member proposed by the government shareholder, I no longer want to support a strategy that I do not agree with," Magnin wrote to chief executive Jean Bernard Levy.

"Let's hope that Hinkley Point will not drag EDF in the same abyss as Areva," said Magnin, founder of Energy Cities, an association of European cities working towards the energy transition.

Magnin’s move follows the surprise resignation of EDF’s chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal in March.

Union sources told Reuters the six union members on EDF's board would vote against Hinkley Point. A non-union board member, who was not aware of Magnin's resignation letter, told Reuters he expected there could be one or two abstentions but that there was no doubt the UK project would be approved.


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