Britain’s Low-Carbon Policy In Crisis: Nuclear Energy Plans In Doubt

  • Date: 23/04/16
  • Emily Davies, Daily Mail

The future of Hinkley Point was in turmoil yesterday after EDF delayed its decision on funding again – just three weeks before it was due.

Threat: EDF is £11billion short of the £18billion needed to build a nuclear power station in Somerset, which is expected to generate 7 per cent of the UK’s power by 2025

Threat: EDF is £11billion short of the £18billion needed to build a nuclear power station in Somerset, which is expected to generate 7 per cent of the UK’s power by 2025

The energy company is £11billion short of the £18billion needed to build a nuclear power station in Somerset, which is expected to generate 7 per cent of the UK’s power by 2025.

Chief executive, Jean Bernard Levy, was due make a final funding decision by May 12, but he told a board meeting yesterday it would be delayed. Instead EDF will consult its work council further, which will take ‘several weeks’, sources said.

EDF’s UK boss Vincent de Rivaz was grilled by MPs last month over setting a date for the decision, and was warned he would be hauled back for questioning if no decision had been taken by May 15.

Revelations of the delay came as lawyers from Monckton Chambers wrote to the Chancellor to say the much-needed funding from the French Government, which has an 85 per cent stake in EDF, would be illegal. EDF had been expected to ask the government to take its dividends in shares rather than cash to make up the shortfall. But the lawyers claimed this would amount to state aid and could prompt an investigation from the European Commission.

In a letter to George Osborne and energy minister Amber Rudd, the lawyers said: ‘If it accepted support from the French government that had not been notified to and approved by the Commission, EDF could therefore subsequently find itself in a position where it was required to repay billions of euros to the French government.’

They claim such an outcome would jeopardise the Hinkley project, and expose EDF to significant risks.

The UK government has already given EDF the maximum amount of subsidy allowed under state aid rules, offering the company a 35 year subsidy at twice the market price and an export guarantee for Hinkley. If EDF successfully secures funding from the French Government, Greenpeace and energy company Ecotricity are prepared to launch a legal challenge against it, and any subsequent investigation by the European Commission would take one year to complete – delaying the project even further.

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