Plans to expand Hinkley Point nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea have been thrown into doubt, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The paper says that power company Centrica, which owns British Gas, is threatening to abandon its investment in the scheme because of concerns about the economics of the project.
Centrica is reportedly concerned that government financial support will not be enough to cover nuclear power’s enormous liabilities, which include the risk of a major accident.
The possible Centrica withdrawal follows decisions by four other large power companies to cancel or re-consider their nuclear investment plans.
Scottish and Southern Electricity and German companies E.ON and RWE have all announced that they will not continue with their nuclear proposals.
“This threatened withdrawal by its partner Centrica should send the strongest possible signal to EDF that it must abandon its nuclear plans at Hinkley Point before more time and energy is wasted on this expensive and dangerous exercise,” Crispin Aubrey from the Stop Hinkley protest group spokesman said on Saturday (April 21st).
“We have said all along that nuclear power can never be economic without massive state subsidies. Even the carrots being offered by the government have failed to persuade Centrica that nuclear power is a good investment.”
In a statement issued later, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “We are moving forward with our strong and credible new nuclear project, and remain committed to delivering the first new nuclear plants in the UK for 20 years at Hinkley Point.”
“We are making progress on all fronts towards taking the Final Investment Decision at the end of this year, as planned.”
“As we have always said, the decision depends on having the correct market framework in place that will allow us to deliver a profitable project, providing an appropriate return on the massive investment required. This in turn depends on agreeing, as soon as practicable, the contract for difference through the transitional arrangement process. These transitional arrangements are a key part of the Electricity Market Reform and are being introduced to allow investors to take timely decisions. Our position has not changed and was reaffirmed by EDF and Centrica when both companies announced annual results earlier this year.”
“We believe that new nuclear is vital as part of the mix to meet the UK’s goals for climate change, security of supply and affordability. It is also a key part of the growth agenda, bringing billion of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs.”