Hinkley impasse: EDF finance director resigns

Boardroom turmoil at EDF Energy over the Hinkley C nuclear plant has resulted in resignation of the company's finance director Thomas Piquemal, who was understood to be objecting to the project due to the financial risks. The £18 billion Hinkley C scheme has one third of its funding secured from the Chinese energy firm GCN, but is reliant on the majority of the other two thirds from EDF. The UK and French government's have signalled their continuing support for the project, but EDF is struggling to find an affordable funding package at a time when its share price has been hit by reports of problems with other similar nuclear power projects.

Piquemal's resignation appears to throw the scheme into crisis, making the job of pushing through an agreed funding package even harder. The value of EDF's share price has been reported down 7% since Piquemal's resignation was confirmed.

Union members on the EDF board are reported to be objecting to Hinkley C due to the excessive financial risks for EDF. But according to the BBC, the French government, which owns 80% of EDF, has been buying up more of the company's shares to improve EDF's financial position for investment in the project.

The Hinkley C nuclear plant was originally expected to be delivering power by 2017. Latest estimates are for a 2025 completion date, but that now seems unlikely due to further delays with finalising the project's funding. According to the Financial Times, Piquemal is among a group on the EDF board insisting a further three year delay to Hinkley C while EDF concentrates on other projects and recovers its financial position, but others including chief exceutive Jean-Bernard Lévy want to give the go-ahead over coming weeks.

Meanwhile UK contractors are poised to get started. Enabling works contracts worth £1.3 billion were awarded last year, subject to a final funding decision.