The Knowledge to Act


Government Support to Proposed UK Nuclear Power Station Carries Big Risks to the British Public

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GENEVA—March 9, 2016—A review of subsidies offered to a proposed nuclear power station, Hinkley Point C, finds the British public on the verge of paying billions of pounds to support the project—and potentially much more if it fails to deliver. 

The findings come on the back of the resignation of Thomas Piquemal, Electricity De France’s finance director, over concerns that the project could threaten the energy firm’s financial stability. 

“Hinkley Point C is a risky project for EDF, but even more risky and expensive for Britain,” said Richard Bridle, a researcher at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and the author of the study. 

The most costly subsidy is a guaranteed price for the electricity generated by Hinkley Point C. Under current proposals, the UK Government has agreed to pay nearly double the current market price for electricity for 35 years.

The UK Government has also proposed the extension of GBP 17 billion worth of loan guarantees to the project. In the event of the project failing, due to overruns or technical problems, the government could therefore be liable for the bulk of the project’s debts. EDF’s apparent concern with the economics of the project indicate that this is a real possibility.

 “Every pound invested in Hinkley Point C means less to invest in other technologies, particularly for renewable energy, which are much less risky and can be financed without so many open-ended commitments,” said Mr. Bridle. 

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