After ten years of preparation, the mammoth project of nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point has been signed by the british authorities, the electricity company of French EDF and their chinese partners, on Thursday 29 September in London.
Signed in the presence of the French minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, the project of 18 billion pounds (21 billion euros), supported to 66.5% by EDF, and to 33.5 % by its chinese partner CGN is building two reactors of the EPR type in the south-west of England, for an expected in-service date to the end of 2025.
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” The Uk needs to renew its energy supply, and we have always said that nuclear power plants such as Hinkley would play an important role “, was welcomed by the minister of energy, uk, Greg Clark, during a brief signing ceremony held at the discretion of the british government.
After being given a final time of reflection at the end of the summer, the first minister of a conservative, Theresa May, has given its agreement to the project on September 15, the object of many criticisms both in terms of economic and ecological matters of industrial safety. The price guarantee granted to EDF by London, under an agreement concluded three years ago with then-prime minister, David Cameron, is considered too generous by the critics of the project. Environmentalists also feel that it would have been more useful to devote to renewable energy investments.
A part of the political class is also frowned in the face of investment in China, fearing for the industrial security of the United Kingdom. To address this concern, the agreement was subject to terms, conditions, and EDF has had to commit to stay in the majority in Hinkley Point.
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Relief for EDF
For EDF, the signature of the contract is a relief after years to prepare the plans, to convince the five successive governments and quell his questions in the house. the ” We are very pleased with this final signature. I am aware of the fact that it was a long phase of preparation, but I am convinced that he knows how to show that, once the goals are set, we can hold “, said its CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy. The preparatory work should be carried out until mid-2019, the scheduled date of start of erection of the reactors.
A part of the unions of EDF had requested the postponement of the planned Hinkley Point on the grounds that it put in danger the finances of the company. The unions fear that the enormous costs of Hinkley Point would weaken the group already facing a wall of investments, including the renovation of French nuclear reactors and the redemption of the activity reactors of Areva, in an energetic environment highly degraded.
Another point of concern, no EPR, a technology of Areva, is still in service in the world due to slippages of time and costs of ongoing projects, including Flamanville (Manche) and in Finland, even if the management of EDF’s promise to learn the lessons of these awful experiences.