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A Big Step Forward for the UKs Nuclear Revival, as Hinkley Point is Finally Approved by EDF But Will the UK Government Stick to its Side of the Deal - Comment by Jonathan Robinson, Principal Consultant, Energy & Environment, Frost & Sullivan - Frost.com
A Big Step Forward for the UKs Nuclear Revival, as Hinkley Point is Finally Approved by EDF But Will the UK Government Stick to its Side of the Deal

 

PRZOOM - /newswire/ - London, United Kingdom, 2016/07/29 - Comment by Jonathan Robinson, Principal Consultant, Energy & Environment, Frost & Sullivan - Frost.com.

   
 
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It has been said before that a crisis can force action and this is arguably the case with EDFs decision on the 28th July to approve the construction of two new reactors at Hinkley Point. The Brexit vote had cast doubt on whether the investment would go ahead, but it has also acted as a catalyst in forcing a decision in order to try and prevent the entire project falling apart. The decision has been pending for several years and is seen as key to the renewal of the UKs power infrastructure. When completed, it will supply 7% of the UKs electricity, vital given the closure of all the UKs coal plants by 2025 and the closure of nuclear plants in the 2020s and 2030s.

To request exclusive information about this research and to schedule your one-on-one strategy dialogue with our analysts now, please send an email to Anna Zanchi, Corporate Communications: anna.zanchi[.]frost.com

What had not been anticipated by EDF was that the UK Government would immediately announce a review of the project, with a decision to be delivered in September. The reason for this action is the on-going contentious issue of the cost of the project, projections for which have continued to rise, and which mean that UK taxpayers will in effect be subsidising a project that assumes energy costs will be more than double what they are now when it is operational. The recent decline in wholesale gas costs coupled with the continued decline in renewables, particularly solar, have made new nuclear projects harder to justify. EDF has progressed slowly and the cost benefit position has gradually weakened. Critics of the project have been vocal in pressuring the government to think again and it appears to have worked. One key unknown are the views of new British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Having been broadly supportive as part of the last Cameron Government, she has not expressed any strong opinions so far. The change in government does give the UK a way out if it wants to abandon this deal, but after cutting renewable subsidies and mandating coal closures, it has limited options other than a renewable u-turn or massive investment in gas, which does have security of supply implications.

Even if the project is approved in September, the length of time it will take to come online will be a key issue, given the capacity gap that is looming in the UK. This approval does not mean the immediate start to construction and further delays are almost inevitable. Comparable nuclear projects in France and Finland have had massive cost and time overruns. Finlands Olkiluoto is now running 9 years late and will take 15 years in total to construct. On this basis, even if Hinkley is started now it will not be online until the 2030s.

The decision in September is said to be finally balanced. The UK Government is desperate to show that investment can continue to flourish in a post-Brexit UK and wants to be seen acting to secure the UKs energy future, as well as providing the skilled jobs that this project will create. But it is also very concerned at the charge that tax payers money is being put into what many view as a very risky construction project. One possible solution could be that the UK Government pushes for a renegotiation of the deal, but this could potentially mean the withdrawal of EDF from the project. The stakes for UK-French relations and the UKs future energy policy are very high indeed.

To request exclusive information about this research and to schedule your one-on-one strategy dialogue with our analysts now, please send an email to Anna Zanchi, Corporate Communications: anna.zanchi[.]frost.com

About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan (frost.com), the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today's market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organization prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?

 
 
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A Big Step Forward for the UKs Nuclear Revival, as Hinkley Point is Finally Approved by EDF But Will the UK Government Stick to its Side of the Deal

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