As of March 23, no official decision whether to continue with the Hinkley Point C project will be made until the beginning of May, said Emmanuel Macron, minister of Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs. This comes after a 68% fall in net profits by EDF in 2015 – critics have said that the company cannot afford to invest in the project. Claims have been made that officials are buying time to finalize designs of a simplified version of the present reactor planned to be built before making a final decision. This unrest comes after the resignation of Thomas Piquemal at the beginning of March, who left the company out of protest against the project.
As the country begins to make good on its promises for carbon emission reduction, commitments to nuclear power have increased nationwide. In a push for cleaner, more localized energy sources the reactors at Hinkley Point C will provide at least 7% of the UK’s energy demands and create over 25,000 jobs. The size of the project is enormous – a scale similar to that of the London Olympics.The reactors will be a £18 billion project that are set to open in 2023 and will have a lifespan of thirty-five years. They will replace several coal-fired power plants that will be closing two years later, in 2025.
One contingency point for many concerned is the reason why a British nuclear reactor is being funded by the French and Chinese. In 2008, British Energy was purchased by EDF the state-controlled French energy company. As the plans were being drawn up in 2013, the energy company was in a prime position for the contract and investment and therefore committed to their stake in the project. The Chinese company became involved when it was clear another investor was needed to share the weight of the project. The General Nuclear Power Cooperation from China purchased a one-third stake in the project for £6 billion.
The British government’s investments will manifest mostly in subsides and customer bills. The project will temporarily increase the average monthly electricity bill initially as much of the UK’s investment is manifested here. £92.50 per megawatt hour is the price the government has agreed to pay for the project – a price that has doubled since the initial project negotiations.