FRENCH ENERGY GIANT EDF has approved the building of a nuclear power station in the UK, a source close to boardroom talks has said.
The plans will see the construction of two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in southwest England at a cost of £18 billion (€21.4 billion).
It is the first new nuclear plant to be built in the UK for 20 years.
Hinkley Point is located along the Bristol Channel and is about 250 km from Rosslare, in Co. Wexford.
The British government estimates that the new reactors will cover up to 7% of Britain’s electricity needs while helping the government meet CO2 emissions targets.
Objections to the power station have already been growing in Ireland with renewable firm Solar 21 this evening saying that Ireland would “suffer from any potential disaster that befalls it.”
“With parts of Ireland being closer to the site than many areas of the UK. This raises concerns surrounding the disposal of waste too, along with the potential for an accident that could hurt the Irish environment,” according to CEO Michael Bradley.
The construction of the power station is highly controversial not just because of environmental concern but also because of fears that it could bankrupt EDF. The company already has a debt mountain €37.4 billion.
In the end, it won backing from 10 members of the board of directors, while seven voted against, the source told AFP.
In a letter seen by AFP, Gerard Magnin said he could no longer support France’s strategy to push nuclear energy at the expense of other options.
“As a board member backed by the shareholding government I no longer wish to support a strategy with which I disagree,” Magnin said in the letter.
The French government has been doggedly determined to get Hinkley Point approved as it sees the project as crucial for the longterm viability of France’s nuclear industry, which employs 220,000 people.
But UK support is not unanimous and criticism focuses on the growing difference between an electricity price guarantee for EDF, subsidised by the British taxpayer, and current falling energy prices.
EDF would be guaranteed £92.50 per megawatt hour produced by Hinkley Point over 35 years, giving it an estimated 9% of return on its capital.
© – AFP 2016 with reporting from Rónán Duffy