Britain needs Hinkley Point C, says EDF Energy head

Posted by NucNet on 16 September 2015 in NucNet

As EDF Energy approaches a final investment decision for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK, the company’s CEO, Vincent de Rivaz, has said it is “the right technology, at the right price, at the right time”.

The 100,000th visitor to EDF Energy’s nuclear power plant visitor centres since the first one opened three years ago was welcomed to the Dungeness plant by de Rivaz yesterday. He presented Shaun Kirby, head of science at a nearby school, with a certificate. De Rivaz said, “The centres allow us to meet people, listen to what they have to say and answer any questions they may have about our stations, our business and the energy industry as a whole.” (Image: EDF Energy)
As that decision approaches, “scrutiny has naturally increased”, de Rivaz said during a visit yesterday to the company’s Dungeness nuclear power plant in Kent. “The project has faced rigorous scrutiny from government – including the Chancellor and the Secretary of State – from parliament, the European Commission, the regulator, the unions, from our workforce, suppliers, customers, partners and many other stakeholders. It has helped us to improve our plans and bring us to the brink of a final investment decision.”

He noted that the analysis of the project has been conducted through a “rigorous, comprehensive and exhaustive set of processes which has taken the best part of a decade”. De Rivaz added, “The processes are led by responsible and accountable people who concluded that it is an investment which Britain needs and that it is based on a good deal and a strong project.”

An October 2013 deal between the British government and EDF says that the former would pay the difference between the agreed price of electricity from Hinkley Point C and the market price if this is lower. This strike price has been set at £92.50 ($151.60) per MWh with this reducing to £89.50 ($146.72) if a further plant at Sizewell is built. If the market price is higher than these, EDF would pay the difference to the government.
“Some critics have compared the strike price to the current electricity price,” he said. “The price today is not a relevant comparison to the electricity Hinkley Point will produce in decades to come. Today’s market price depends on fossil fuels and ageing plants. Our project will ensure we don’t need to continue to depend on them in future.”

He added: “Short-term events have not changed the long-term case on which this project was based and its price deemed fair. The market price today is similar – even if it has decreased a little – to where it was two years ago when the price for Hinkley Point C was agreed and welcomed.”
Describing the Hinkley Point C project as “a vast undertaking”, he said, “It is a good deal. It is affordable and fair”.

Regarding the reactor technology to be employed at the planned plant, he said, “Hinkley Point C will be the fifth and sixth EPRs worldwide”.
“It is true that there have been delays at Flamanville,” he said. “The experience gained there – and at Taishan in China – will be immensely valuable when we come to Hinkley Point C. And for the UK we have a design that is stable. We are sure of what we will build before we begin construction […] Our experience will ensure that this technology – which has been through a teething and somewhat challenging period – will mature to deliver its full potential for the UK and around the world.”

He said that many other large infrastructure projects in the UK – such as Crossrail, the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow’s Terminal 5 – have faced scepticism in the final stages of development. “For me, this is a great pity. Britain’s infrastructure would be all the weaker if its leaders had allowed the doubters and procrastinators to derail those projects,” de Rivaz said.

However, he said that Hinkley Point will be built on time. “Not too early, not too late,” de Rivaz said. “When it arrives it will be welcomed and it will be needed … In a few short years, Britain will need Hinkley Point C, and we are on track to deliver for when it does.”