The construction of a new nuclear power plant in Somerset has been delayed again, threatening to derail the Government’s energy plans.
EDF Energy is supposed to be building the new nuclear power station at Hinkley in Somerset but ground preparation works, due to begin in August have been delayed.
It seems the election of François Hollande as President of France has dented the confidence of companies closely associated with nuclear power. France gets 75% of its power from nuclear and EDF Energy is one of the most pro-nuclear energy companies. However, 83% of EDF is owned by the French government and François Hollande has promised to cut back on nuclear power.
There are reports of rising reactor costs but the British government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure energy security by replacing old nuclear power plants with modern ones. Already, as Utility Exchange reported recently, E.ON and RWE have pulled out of building new nuclear plants at Oldbury and Wylfa because of the increasing costs.
Without new nuclear power plants there are concerns that more energy will have to be imported and as a result we could see an even bigger rise in energy costs including business electricity prices.
The news that the work on the new power station at Hinkley will not begin until at least next year has pleased campaigners. Speaking from the Stop Hinkley Campaign, Crispin Aubrey, said “this is very good news. We’ve always argued that it’s appalling vandalism to destroy more than 400 acres of Somerset countryside before they even have permission to construct the proposed reactors. This is yet another sign that the UK’s dangerous nuclear enterprise is stumbling”.
Meanwhile an EDF Energy spokesman said “We aim to start the earthworks as soon as practicable and all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that work can start in good time”.
Energy companies have called for the government to make investment in nuclear power more attractive as part of its electricity market reform plans. The chief executive of Centrica, Sam Laidlaw, said recently, “The investment case for nuclear has yet to be proven”, while Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF, said “It is absolutely critical that the government continues to make steady, tangible progress with its electricity market reform plans”.