One thing we have learnt this week – Hinkley C

The whole Hinkley C saga continues to roll on and on and on.  This morning its taken another extraordinary twist.  Yesterday the French decided to go ahead with the scheme after years of prevarication (so many I’ve lost count).  Overnight the UK government has made what could be an extraordinary volte face.  They want to consider the whole thing and delay actually signing the contract.

At this point I am beginning to feel sorry for EDF, something I had thought was not possible.  The previous government had been on and on at EDF over Hinkley C.  EDF agree to go ahead and then our government seems to have cold feet.  You could not make it up.

This is without a shadow of a doubt a terrible deal.  There are clear indications that both sides are trying to find a way out without losing face.  The power is two expensive and some other technology will be needed to fill the gap.  One extraordinary fact is that the reactor was supposed to open next year, which makes it 9 years late before construction has even started.  The French unions oppose it, several members of the EDF board have resigned and the French government has had to recapitalise EDF.

Whilst it seems more likely that this is going to go ahead or at least start, we cannot be sure it will finish.  There is talk of abandoning construction of the same reactor at Flaminville.  I assume my government is trying to get a better deal particularly on the power price.  How successful this will be we can only guess.

The problem for the nuclear lobby is that almost all competing technologies are now cheaper (only wave and tidal are definitely more expensive) at the suggested strike price.  By the time these Hinkley C reactors open all these technologies and energy storage will be cheaper (given this thing may have a 60-100 year life).  This also assume construction goes smoothly.  Nuclear will not be able to compete with renewables and how will they be able to sell the power?

Neil

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