France’s energy giant EDF will finally give the green light to the controversial construction of two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Britain in September, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said today.
French President Francois Hollande “has confirmed France’s engagement” in the project, and “the final decision on investment could be confirmed in September”, Macron said in an interview with weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
The final decision on investment had been expected in May, but EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French state, announced a delay on Friday saying it first had to consult with an internal committee as demanded by France’s unions. This could set the project back for several months.
“The investment in the two reactors at Hinkley Point will be equivalent to a year of investments by EDF. This won’t shake its financial trajectory,” Macron added, denying rumours France could pull out of the project. Macron added that the project would promote French technology in the face of American, Chinese and Russian competition.
Hinkley Point, which EDF is to build in partnership with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), will be Britain’s first nuclear power plant in decades and is to provide seven percent of its energy needs by 2025.
With a projected cost of 18 billion ($26 billion, 23 billion euros), it will also be one of the world’s most expensive nuclear power plants.
Questions have been raised about the financial viability of the project as EDF is struggling with a debt pile of more than 37 billion euros (USD 42 billion).
The company has reportedly asked the government to help it finance the contested plan to build Hinkley Point, and Macron said last week that the French government was willing to inject fresh capital into the energy giant if necessary.