Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

Stop Hinkley Campaign calls on EDF Energy to abandon Hinkley Point C



Nuclear - Paul J Everett via Flickr

The Stop Hinkley Campaign will be holding a peaceful protest at 1pm today outside EDF Energy’s offices in King Square, Bridgwater and delivering the following letter:

Dear EDF Energy,

We are writing to you the day before another EDF Board Meeting at which it is rumoured a
final investment decision on Hinkley Point C could be made to urge you to scrap this project
altogether.

As has been widely reported, the managers’ union CFE-CGC, which has a seat on EDF’s
board, has voiced its concern about the significant financial issues raised by investing in
Hinkley Point C and says such a huge commitment could put the very future of EDF as a
company in danger. The Association of Employee Shareholders (EAS) – has asked for the
project to be halted.

We understand that EDF’s financial problems include:
– Debts of €37 billion (£28 billion) and its share price has fallen from €29 in April 2014
to €10.32 last week. Financing a massive project like Hinkley Point C will clearly
place a significant strain on finances. The union notes that the debt related to
Hinkley Point C will need to be 100% fully consolidated into the EDF accounts – an
amount which exceeds the market capitalization of the Group.
– EDF is now facing a €100m bill for upgrading its nuclear power stations in France
according to a report by French Government auditor – the Cour des Comptes –
rather than €55bn previously estimated.

– EDF has also agreed to buy between 51 and 75% of the struggling French reactor
builder Areva NP which is valued at €2.7bn. So will have to find at least €1.4bn for
that.

– The French waste agency Andra has estimated that the cost of its deep geological
disposal project could be as high as €30bn rather than the €20bn estimated by EDF.
French energy minister Ségolène Royal has signed a decree setting the
‘reference cost’ at €25 billion – still a jump of €5bn for EDF.
– The unions also mention the need for EDF to invest in renewable energy across the
globe. In France the Parliament passed a law last year to reduce the share of
electricity provided by nuclear power from 75% to 50%. The Cour des Comptes says
this could lead to the closure of 17 to 20 reactors.

– The union has also highlighted the construction problems at reactors similar to the Hinkley
design at Flamanville in Normandy and Olkiluoto in Finland. Flamanville is currently 6 years
late and around €7.2bn over budget. Olkiluoto is expected to be 10 years behind schedule
and €5.5bn over budget. On top of all this the French nuclear regulator ASN now says it won’t
decide until the end of this year what to do about weak spots in steel of the pressure vessel at
Flamanville. If ASN decides that Areva needs to replace the reactor vessel or lid because of
the weak spots, the Flamanville project could face significant further delays and cost
overruns.

– The Union wants to know how EDF can assume a 9-year construction time for Hinkley Point
C when 10-15 years has been the norm so far, and why the company is considering
embarking on the construction of two more EPR reactors when none have yet been
completed anywhere in the world.

– Like the unions we at Stop Hinkley believe the EDF Board would be foolhardy to commit to
building two EPRs at Hinkley Point C when the Company is in such a precarious position. It is
not difficult to see why EDF’s employee shareholders fear that the project could sink the
company altogether. The Company is in no fit state to finance such a massive new project.
But as people who live in the vicinity of the proposed Hinkley Point C, our main concern is not
the future of EDF as a Company. Our concern is about the future of our community.

– Whatever EDF decides at its Board meeting on 16th February we find it very hard to believe
that this project will ever come to fruition. We have lived with the threat of Hinkley Point C (in
this incarnation), and all the disruptions that that entails, for a decade now, and yet all we
have got to show for it is a big hole in the ground. If you make a positive final investment
decision tomorrow the uncertainty and disruption created by this project will continue.
If you read the Energy Press, as we are sure you do, you will know by now that many
commentators consider baseload power as a concept to be obsolete. A system powered
100% by renewables supported by a backbone of electricity storage, smart grid technology
and demand management, energy efficiency, and 21st century technology is perfectly
feasible now. In fact, not only is it feasible, but strong market and social forces mean that
such a system is increasingly the only kind of system that makes any sense.

– There are huge renewable resources available in the South-West which are capable of
boosting our rural economy and ensuring our energy security. All that is holding us back from
a renewable revolution is a failure of political will. Regen South West has pointed out that if
the UK Government puts in place the policies needed to meet 15% of the South West’s
energy requirements (N.B. Energy, not just electricity, i.e. including heat and transport) this
will deliver £10bn of investment and 24,000 jobs. The UK is committed, under EU rules, to
meeting a 15% target for energy by 2020.

– The South-West region has the renewable energy resources to meet more than 100% of its
total energy needs, including replacement of liquid fuels and electrifying railways. We should
aim to do this by 2050. According to a recent report by The Resilience Centre the South-West
has the potential to generate an estimated 68TWh of energy made up of 43TWh of electricity
energy, and 25TWh of thermal energy. This equates to just over 100% of total future energy
needs for the South-West assuming a 40% powering down due to energy efficiency
measures by 2050. A programme to deliver a 100% renewable energy target would create
122,000 jobs. The capital cost of delivering such a programme would be £59,484m, including
£8,784m on Smart Grid energy storage. This is 72% of equivalent nuclear costs for delivering
the same amount of energy.

– When renewables become the dominant source of power, baseload power stations get in the
way because they have to operate as close to full-time as possible and cannot power up or
down quickly. These old-fashioned plants are not merely a problem, they become an
obstruction. Instead, it is necessary to have power sources whose power can be adjusted up
and down quickly. According to UBS Bank, “Large-scale power generation … will be the
dinosaur of the future energy system: Too big, too inflexible, not even relevant for backup
power in the long run.” (9) Large baseload power stations, such as nuclear and large coalfired
power stations are not flexible because they are hard to turn on and off. So building
more baseload power stations would actually undermine moving towards a clean energy
future. It would simply mean that during peak times when renewables are supplying lots of
electricity, some of that power will go to waste.

– A large-scale experiment, called Kombikraftwerk, started in Germany on 1st January 2006.
This is a computer model which uses actual real time power output from a number of wind, PV and biogas electricity generators. It has demonstrated the feasibility of operating a
virtually 100% renewable electricity system.

– Most utilities are now looking at how they can carve out a future for their companies in a
world which is dominated by decentralised energy. For instance the Chief Executive of Engie
UK Mr Petrie says he wants Engie to “… focus is on the demand side. The future is going to
be much more about decentralized energy”.

– We urge you, as a Company, to ditch the Hinkley Point C proposals which threaten to trash
our communities and the very future of EDF itself. Instead you should embrace the
decentralised energy revolution and help us in South-West England to get on with planning
our 100% renewable energy future.
Yours faithfully
Stop Hinkley Co-ordinating Team

Campaign Spokesperson, Roy Pumfrey said:

It clear from the press today that Stop Hinkley Campaigners are not the only ones calling on EDF Energy to abandon Hinkley Point C. We are calling on EDF to scrap these plans as soon as possible so that communities in Somerset can get on with planning a sustainable energy future. The Government should stop taking UK energy policy down this nuclear cul-de-sac and get on with implementing a sensible renewable energy strategy.”


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