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Sunday, 25 February

France's Flamanville Fans Hinkley Fears as Franco-Chinese Accord is Reached

The future for the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has become clearer - national media including the BBC have confirmed a Franco-Chinese go-ahead to build the facility.

The BBC says: 'EDF Energy has reached an agreement with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The deal was confirmed at a news conference by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping'.

The cost of the plant has been set by EDF at £18 billion (though some French media have reported it as £24.5 billion) so CGN will pay £6 billion for a one-third stake with the possibility of purchasing a further 15 per cent.


Bad news back home

EDF is building a similar reactor in France but has apparently had to ask the French government for an extension on delivery of a project that was due in 2012 but has been plagued by delays. It has also more than trebled in price. 2018 is a reasonable estimate of when it will come on line.


An ideology joke from the editor

The British government has also been criticised in some quarters for guaranteeing a doubling of price per megawatt hour by the time Hinkley C comes on stream. However, this guarantee is in line with others (and somewhat lower) made to heavily backed foreign investor energy schemes.

Any criticism of the deal in China was immediately suppressed  and the critics thrown into prison.


Previous reporting

According to a report by news agency Reuters on Monday, EDF were confident of  coming to an agreement with the Chinese to build the facility in Somerset.

“If all goes well, we will be able to announce major news in the coming days, the first nuclear new-build in Europe since the Fukushima accident,” stated Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO, EDF talking over the weekend to television station iTELE. However, he would not be drawn on the level of possible Chinese investment did not want to make unwise judgements during the visit this week of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK.

Levy was at pains to defend the controversial 92 pound per megawatt-hour power price that the UK government has guaranteed for 35 years. “Britain is not giving guarantees to do us a favour but because Hinkley Point will provide power 24 hours a day for 60 years,” insisted Levy. “Security of supply has a value.”


Security fears

The UK government has had to fend off security fears with such a deal with China and its ever-closer involvement with the country’s nuclear energy, according to The Times.

The Cameron government does not appear to be concerned by the anonymous views expressed and committed itself to a £2 billion guarantee to secure funding by the Chinese for Hinkley Point C to be built jointly with EDF and costing an estimated £24.5 billion.

Two other projects would also progress, subject to agreement this week over Hinkley Point C –at Sizewell, in Suffolk and the first Chinese-designed and built nuclear reactor in Europe, at Bradwell, in Essex.

Picture:  Flamanville.

Article written by Mike Gannon


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