Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hinkley: "a costly, old-hat way to generate low-carbon energy"

The Hinkley project has been held up by the new government:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Hinkley

Much to the dismay of several 'stakeholders':
Futures Forum: The issues of ownership and energy security @ Hinkley C >>> but 'business in the South West face the bitter disappointment of further delays'

Many of whom are involved elsewhere:
Something rotten in the nuclear procurement industry? | East Devon Watch

Here is a handy guide from the New Economics Foundation:

Energy round-up: Hinkley C


Last week Theresa May stunned just about everyone by delaying at the 11th hour an expected final decision on whether to back a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
So what happened?
On Friday 29 July the Government had been expected to rubberstamp a commitment to provide the new plant – Hinkley C – with 35 years of ongoing subsidy.
The company that plans to build and operate the plant, France’s EDF Energy – majority owned by the French state – had given the final go-ahead to pay its share of the total £18 billion construction cost.
It hadn’t been an easy ride for EDF. Its head of finance quit in protest at the project’s financial risk and its board’s trade union representatives havebegun legal proceedings against the decision.
It looks like a deal may have been forced through: rumours are circulating that the head of EDF not only knew that the UK was in fact about to delay the project, but didn’t even give board members enough time to scrutinise the details of the deal.
The rest of the construction cost was to be largely met by the Chinese Government, as President Xi Jinping confirmed during his state visit to the UK in October. Hinkley was the centrepiece of former Chancellor George Osborne’s strategy to open the UK to Chinese investment, with some £105 billion of Chinese investment in UK infrastructure earmarked to 2025. 
With project finance secured, UK approval seemed a formality. But it wasn’t. The new Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, instead announced that a decision on whether to proceed would not be taken until the autumn.   
On one level there’s nothing odd about a new Prime Minister wanting to look afresh at a project as costly, and as dependent on investment from foreign governments, as Hinkley C.
Quite aside from the construction cost – which would make it perhaps the most expensive object on Earth – it would be subsidised from all of our energy bills at a total hit of up to an eyewatering £30 billion.
Mrs May has long been sceptical of the Hinkley plan. Her new Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy is deeply worried about the involvement of the Chinese – warning of giving a “hostile” superpower such influence over such a key piece of strategic infrastructure.  It’s an implication with diplomatic consequences, having drawn polite fury from the Chinese government.
It also deliberately marks a difference from the economic strategy of George Osborne, from whom Mrs May has gone out of her way to distance herself (starting on day one with his ignominious sacking). The former Chancellor’s ferocious deficit reduction strategy meant having to turn to foreign capital to build UK kit – with all sorts of economic and foreign policy consequences of its own. 
We’ve written before about the ill logic of an investment strategy that relies on foreign governments to build our infrastructure despite record low interest rates here at home.
What next?
It isn’t clear whether this is a genuine delay, or a precursor to a flat-out rejection. It would be no surprise if September brings a decision to pull the plug – very few people that aren’t invested in the project think that it’s a good use of cash.   
What would that mean for the UK’s nuclear ambitions? Hinkley was to be the flagship, but at the time of writing, companies behind other proposed plants, such as at Moorside in Cumbria, are saying that it doesn’t necessarily mean curtains for their projects. 
The UK government stresses it is still committed to nuclear.  But none of this has done any good to the image of nuclear as being a costly, old-hat way to generate low-carbon energy.

Energy round-up: Hinkley C | New Economics Foundation

This is the view from EDF:
Hinkley Point C facts | Nuclear New Build | EDF Energy

Together with a nice big of PR:
Hinkley Point C funds save thousands from potential homelessness | Somerset Live

And this is the view from a campaigning group:
Stop Press - Stop Hinkley

Meanwhile, the French and Chinese are furious:
Hinkley Point: A tale of three nations - The i newspaper online iNews

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