EDF still backing Hinkley

EDF’s CEO has told a committee of MPs that “categorically” the Hinkley Point nuclear plant will go ahead, but experts have told the same committee that they have big concerns over the project's spiraling costs.

Speaking today to MPs on the energy select committee, Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of UK division EDF Energy, said that a long-delayed decision on the controversial project would be taken “very soon” and insisted it would be “good news” for the UK.

He referred to comments made this week by French economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who said that he expected a final investment decision by “early May”. However, MPs were dismayed when de Rivaz refused to explicitly confirm his company’s own expectation of a decision date.

Instead de Rivaz said MPs would be making a “very reasonable assumption” that the date should be by mid-May.

EDF is still in negotiations with the French government to secure more financial support for Hinkley Point. De Rivaz told MPs that there was strain on the company’s finances due to it making huge investments across the group at a time when power prices had dropped dramatically. 

MPs were informed that discussions were in the final stages with the French government and De Rivaz said that whatever solution was decided upon, the project would not require any further input from the UK government, which has already committed subsidies to the power plant for 35 years and also offered EDF a £2bn loan guarantee.

MPs on the committee also heard concerns from experts about the high costs of the project and doubts over whether EDF could build its reactors on time following delays and cost overruns to its projects in France and Finland.

Dr Simon Taylor, of Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, said that it would be in the public interest if Hinkley “could be cancelled or renegotiated without jeopardising the rest of the UK’s nuclear programme”. Dr Taylor went on to say that it would be better if the French government pulled out of the project, because if the UK government withdrew then it would damage investor confidence for other projects.

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