Saturday, 23 July 2016

Brexit: and Hinkley

There has been a lot of speculation about plans for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset since the referendum vote:
Will Brexit cause Hinkley C to meltdown? Opinions are divided | Somerset Live

The latest news casts doubts on the spending of vast sums on big projects - including Hinkley:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and infrastructure projects

However, it now seems that the main body behind the project will be coming to a decision to proceed:

Hinkley Point C final investment decision to come next week, says EDF


EDF looks set to give Hinkley Point C the green light after it announced it would make a final investment decision next week. The French energy giant said it would call a board meeting next Thursday, with an FID on the agenda. A decision will be welcomed by the contractors that have secured more than £1.3bn-worth of contracts at the plant.

In a statement released by EDF, it said an FID would see the first concrete reactor scheduled for mid-2019.

The announcement comes during prime minister Theresa May’s visit to France, where she held talks with French president Francois Hollande.

An investment decision would bring an end to months of speculation over whether the Somerset project would go ahead. Last October EDF said it expected to make a final investment decision on the plant by the end of the year,but this target was missed. It was then followed by a number of dates for an FID given by EDF and the French government, which have also failed to materialise.

Doubts over the project have intensified following Brexit, despite the EDF board saying the vote to leave would have no impact on its decision. While the French and UK governments have backed the Somerset project throughout, unions on EDF’s board have called for the project to be delayed due to concerns over the financial burden the company will take on.

EDF’s resources have been stretched by its absorption of reactor business Areva and a £83bn plan to upgrade 58 of its existing nuclear plants in France.

Hinkley Point C would be a crucial part of the UK’s future energy mix, providing 7 per cent of the country’s total electricity needs when up and running in 2025.

However, EDF’s Flamanville plant in northern France has been beset by problems since construction started in 2007; it is now running six years behind schedule and more than €7bn (£5.2bn) over budget. The technology is also being used used at the Olkiluoto 3 reactor in Finland, which is currently 10 years behind schedule and €5bn (£3.7bn) over budget.

Decision on Hinkley expected next week | News | Construction News

More dramatically, there has been a police raid on the EDF HQ - as reported in the Telegraph:

EDF raided by French authorities ahead of Hinkley greenlight

The Financial Markets Authority (AMF) swooped on EDF’s Paris headquarters ahead of a long-awaited decision on the controversial Hinkley Point project CREDIT: REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES/FILE PHOTO/REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES/FILE PHOTO

Jillian Ambrose 22 JULY 2016 • 6:32PM

French finance authorities have raided the offices of EDF just days before the state-backed energy giant is expected to give the go-ahead to its controversial Hinkley Point new nuclear project.

The long-awaited final decision on the Hinkley project is scheduled to take place at a board meeting next Thursday, even as authorities in both the UK and France escalate concerns over the costs of the £18bn project.

French investigators from the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) swooped on EDF’s Paris headquarters on Thursday morning as part of a probe into EDF’s disclosure of information to the market. Investigators are said to be concerned about the reporting of its domestic nuclear maintenance costs as well as the plans to develop new nuclear reactors in Somerset.

Local media reports say the AMF recovered a series of documents from the EDF offices and requested a meeting with EDF general secretary Pierre Todorov.

Just hours after the raid the company said it would hold a board meeting on Thursday 28 July to agree a final decision on the project, feeding speculation that the company is preparing to push ahead with the 3.2GW project.

The company also has a scheduled extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday next week, seeking approval from shareholders for its proposed £3bn recapitalistion.

Meanwhile, the head of the UK’s National Audit Office has raised further concerns over the UK’s plans to subside EDF’s plans in the face of a “tidal wave” of pressures from an impending Brexit and a pipeline of existing infrastructure projects requiring a total of £405bn.

Sir Amyas Morse, comptroller and auditor general at the NAO, told the Guardian in an interview that projects such as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, a third runway at Heathrow and the ambitious HS2 rail project would have to be reassessed as the government decides which can be done without, according to a report in the Guardian.

“We need to ask ourselves, can the public sector deliver Hinkley Point C, a third runway, HS2, a Northern Powerhouse, nuclear decommissioning, Trident renewal and restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster all at the same time?” asked Sir Amyas.

“There is a policy at the moment to have lots of infrastructure projects. I say fine, but some of them will have very big consequences in terms of your ability to deliver your other goals,” he said.

In a recent report, the NAO heaped criticism on the Hinkley Point plans saying the spiralling costs will hit consumers in the pocket, even as other low carbon energy options offer an increasingly better deal.

The subsidy bill to be paid by households and businesses for Hinkley Point has more than quadrupled since the agreement for the new nuclear plant was signed in 2013.

At the time the deal was signed, power price projections had implied a lifetime cost to consumers of £6.1bn for the subsidies. But as of March this year, that had more than quadrupled to £29.7bn due to significant cuts to official power price forecasts.

EDF declined to comment on the raid, and the AMF was unavailable.

EDF raided by French authorities ahead of Hinkley greenlight - Telegraph

Pound plunges as ‘dramatic deterioration’ in UK economy stokes Brexit recession fears - Telegraph

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