The CFE-CGC Energy Union has said investment in the huge Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant development should be delayed by several years until some potential problems can be worked out. The £18bn project, if completed, could provide about 7% of UK’s electricity, so it’s obviously a massive project.
Engineers at the French utility EDF have also called for delay, saying that the project is very complicated and unproven. “Right now, Hinkley is too risky for the company. We think it is better to wait and see. Wait for three years so we can see that everything works… or not,” said Francis Raillott from CFE-CGC.
The project is so huge that reportedly up to 25,000 jobs could be created during the construction phase.
This new reactor type has had some problems during construction, “The world’s first EPR at Olkiluoto in Finland is still not finished after eight years. Construction started on an EPR at Flamanville in France in 2007, but completion has been delayed until 2016. However, two EPRs at Taishan, China, should be finished within a year.”
Recently it was reported that a British parliamentary committee had asked for information about plans and potential costs if the massive project should fail.
The project was designed to use two EPR reactors situated in Somerset, England and have a capacity of 3,200 MWe. There are already two nuclear power stations in the area: Hinkley Point A and Hinkley Point B, but only the latter is still operational.
In addition to the potential design issues, some have commented on the high cost, “We are frankly staggered that the UK Government thinks it is appropriate to take such a bet and under-write the economics of any power station that costs £5m per MW and takes 9 years to build,” said Peter Atherton from Liberium Partners.
Of course, the main reason for building it is to add electricity generation capacity, and nuclear does fit the bill in terms of not using carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Building such a large, high-cost plant does also seem risky — especially if it proves in the end to have any problems when it goes live.
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