EDF-Areva has confirmed that it will bear the cost of any over runs associated with the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.
In the context of the other three European pressure reactor projects currently ongoing in Finland, China and France, it represents a big risk for the newly merged French state-owned company as all three of those projects have experienced costly delays.
A spokesperson for EDF Energy (Euronext: EDF) told Power Engineering International that this aspect of the nuclear power project will not affect the British taxpayer.
“From the outset of the new nuclear programme, the Government has made its view clear that it should be energy companies and their investors, not UK taxpayers, who take the construction and operational risk in nuclear projects. This fundamental principle has remained constant since the 2008 Nuclear White Paper. That is what will happen at Hinkley Point C and in future projects.”
Earlier this week Keith Parker, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association in response to an article by Christopher Booker in the Daily Mail wrote: 'For the first time, a new nuclear power station is being built without state funding. EDF Energy and its partners are taking all the construction risk, not UK consumers or the taxpayer'.
It appears that any cost over runs will therefore be borne by the French taxpayer due to the ownership by that country’s government of the newly merged company.
As Dr David Toke of the University of Aberdeen points out in an article in Clean Technica this week, “Ultimately the French electricity consumer would end up paying a high price to install a failed nuclear power design in the UK. Does the French public understand this? They ought to be acquainted with what they are taking on.”
Ahead of prospective final investment decision later this autumn some uncertainty still surrounds the progress of the project. On Thursday the UK’s nuclear watchdog announced that it has stopped safety inspections at the planned site after EDF Energy ordered a stop to all groundwork.
Click Green website reports that despite recently publishing a list of preferred suppliers for the £24 billion project, the French firm were in behind-the-scenes talks with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), during which they informed them of their decision to mothball the site.
Nuclear New Build Genco (NNB) – a consortium including EDF Energy, China General Nuclear Corporation and investors – introduced a spending cap because of uncertainty surrounding the Final Investment Decision.
Preparations for construction continued to move forward, but all work has now been stopped and the site has been placed in a state of “care and maintenance”.
ONR said it had taken the decision to suspend the production of future inspection reports until after NNB GenCo has made its Final Investment Decision and is ready to remobilise the project.