Excellent Energy and Climate Change meeting yesterday with a witness panel made up of senior executives in the nuclear power generation sector in the UK. We had Chief Executives of EDF (Hinkley Point C, Bradwell B and Sizewell C), Horizon (Wylfa and Oldbury) and NuGeneration (Moorside) along with Zhu Minhong from China General Nuclear, (EDF funding partner) who had travelled from China especially for the meeting. Fantastic panel.
Reason behind the meeting being arranged was public doubt that the EDF developments will ever go ahead. EDF's Chief Exec, Vincent de Rivas was amazing. No way was he going to say anything unplanned. We wanted to know when EDF intend to make the formal commitment to go ahead. He wasn't telling us. Trying to pin him down was like trying to nail jelly to the wall!! Zhu Minhong must have been impressed by the Frenchman's inscrutability. All we learned was that EDF are 100% committed to the project and that the French Economics Minister has said a final decision will be made by mid May. I think we knew that before the meeting. Mr de Rivas was so brilliantly elusive I had a job not to laugh out loud. Questioners will have to rise very early in the morning to get the better of him!
Despite learning nothing new from the session, I have more confidence that Hinkley Point will get the go-ahead sometime soon. Too much money has been invested for EDF (effectively the French Govt) to walk away. EDF has already invested over 2billion in the Hinkley development which will cost £18 billion in total, an eye watering sum. I also think the budget and timetable being discussed are so generous that it will come in on budget and timetable. But confidence also grows that Wylfa and Moorside will be up and running before Hinkley - producing by mid-2020s. Both are progressing under the radar wand the public interest in Hinkley. I suppose it's the UKs obsession with potential failure, and boredom with likely success!
While I feel increasingly sure the UK will develop a new 'fleet' of large scale nuclear, I also think it unlikely that there will be the talked of 18 Gw of new generation by mid 2020s. I also think that we are now looking to build the last large nuclear power plants in the UK. The future is small nuclear, renewables and hydrogen. That warrents a separate post.