UK’s ‘energy destiny’ hangs on nuclear price talks, warns EDF boss De Rivaz

EDF Energy boss Vincent de Rivaz has said that “real momentum now exists and almost all of the necessary pieces are in place” over the company’s bid to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in the UK.

And he added that the decision to go ahead with the project “could change the energy landscape” in Britain.

But he warned that if EDF and the government “collectively duck” the chance to put the final seal on price negotiations, “the opportunity to shape our own energy destiny will be lost – maybe forever”.

He said the “missing pieces” were a final planning decision and, “most crucially, a balanced, stable and durable agreement on the price of the electricity generated”.

He was referring to the contract for difference – or strike price – that the UK government has said it will pay as a guaranteed income to all energy companies for the electricity that they generate. The price will differ across all forms of power generation, and Hinkley Point will be the first new nuclear site to go ahead – and as such agree a strike price – since the contracts for difference were unveiled as part of the government’s Energy Bill.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper yesterday, de Rivaz said that the price “needs to be fair and balanced for both our company and the government”.

“I believe we can reach an agreement with the government which will transparently display the economic viability of new nuclear, and which can underpin a robust business case for investors,” he said.

“EDF is now closer than ever to being able to make a decision that could change the energy landscape in this country for generations to come. Get it right and the UK has a chance to ensure that it has the right energy mix for the long term.”

However he warned: “If collectively we duck this now, the opportunity to shape our own energy destiny will be lost – maybe forever.”

De Rivaz added that the “majority of people in the country and in Parliament recognise that nuclear power must remain part of the energy mix”.

“Nuclear is the long-term, consistent guarantee that Britain has the low-carbon energy that it needs,” he stated.

Last week, de Rivaz told UK MPs that he made no apology for trying to secure a “reasonable profit” from the nuclear strike price negotiations.

“Yes, we are going to ask for a reasonable profit. We are a force for good. It is time to respect investors.”

He also stressed that despite the cost overruns of EDF’s Flamanville nuclear site in France, “the construction cost of Hinkley Point is the cost that we are going to deliver. It is fit for purpose.”

When asked if he thought the Energy Bill would be good for EDF’s business, he replied:  “It is there to deliver policymakers’ policies. It is fair.”

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