Gargantuan Woes of an Energy Minister

In response to the news that EDF are facing new delays at their nuclear plants in Finland and France Kate Blagojevic, Greenpeace head of energy and climate said: “Greg Clark must have his head in his hands as he reads about the latest costly delays in EDF’s nuclear power stations in France and Finland. These plants have been faced with a catalogue of safety problems which do not bode well for their sister power station in Somerset, Hinkley point C. There is no reason to assume that Hinkley will not face similar issues. In fact, it is more proof for the government that an energy policy that relies on expensive, risky nuclear energy is a plan that has no basis in economic or environmental logic. It will saddle future generations with hazardous waste and a huge bill that looks gargantuan in comparison to the cheaper, safer and easier to build renewable energy.”
One of the flagship nuclear schemes, the £15 billion Moorside development in Cumbria in north—west England, made 70 of its 100 staff redundant in September because the current owners, Toshiba, are unable to finance it and cannot find a buyer. Tom Samson, the managing director of NuGen, the company set up to construct the power station, said he was fighting “tooth and nail” to save it but that there was “a real danger” the whole idea would be abandoned. V\fith renewable electricity becoming much cheaper than new nuclear in the UK, the proposed stations have the added disadvantage that they are remote from population centres and would need expensive new grid connections.
A similar lack of financial backers is affecting plans by another Japanese giant, Hitachi, to build an equally ambitious project at Wylfa in Wales. This is also a remote site with an existing but redundant nuclear station and, coincidentally, a marginal constituency where voters badly need new jobs. Again, finding a company, or even a country, with deep enough pockets to help build this power station is proving difficult, even though the UK government has offered to underwrite part of the cost. In F rance EDF has 58 ageing reactors in its fleet, most of which need upgrading to meet safety requirements, with others more than 40 years old due for closure. The costs of the upgrades plus the decommissioning will create an even bigger debt problem, making investment in new reactors virtually impossible. This financial hurdle for EDF may yet halt its construction of Hinkley Point’s twin reactors, effectively killing off nuclear new build in Britain.