“Brexir risks pushing up Hinkley cost, EDF warns

A correspondent has drawn attention to the latest article by Emily Gosden, Energy Editor, The Times on emerging nuclear projects. The elephant in the room exposed by this article is, contrary to the impression generated by our LEP that Hinkley provides the “Golden Opportuity” for local growth, these projects rely on a ready supply of European and International labour, expertise, goods and services.

In these circumstances, is it wise of our LEP to put all its ( glowing green?) eggs in one basket? No doubt those LEP board members with nuclear interests, training for the nuclear interests and developing housing around the site (at least half the board) will say yes.

But would that be in Devon’s best interests?

“EDF has raised the spectre of delays or cost overruns to its £18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant as a result of Brexit, warning that any restrictions to trade and movement of labour could hamper the delivery of energy projects.

The French state-controlled company said Britain would have to import goods and skilled labour from around the world in order to make the “very substantial investments in new infrastructure” needed to keep the lights on.
“There is a risk that restrictions on trade and movement of labour will increase the costs of essential new infrastructure developments and could delay their delivery,” it said in a submission to MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee.

Although EDF did not mention Hinkley Point, it said Britain’s import requirements would include “critical goods and services in the nuclear supply chain and specialist nuclear skills”. Hinkley Point is the only new nuclear power station to have been given the go-ahead in the UK.

The plant, which was once expected to start generating in 2017, was eventually signed off by the government last autumn, with a revised start-up date of 2025. Ministers hope that it will be the first in a series of new nuclear projects, with Hitachi’s Horizon venture developing plans for reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, and the Toshiba-Engie joint venture NuGen working on a project at Moorside in Cumbria.

However, in its submission to the committee, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) warned that potential changes as a result of Brexit could also jeopardise these projects.

It said investments may not be forthcoming unless there was stable energy policy, clarity on the market and in particular “confidence that there will be continuing access to skills, both specialist nuclear skills from European/International companies and construction labour and the easy supply of goods and services across EU borders”.

NuGen and Horizon are struggling to secure financing and are understood to be in talks with the government about potential direct investment in their projects. Toshiba is under particular pressure after making huge writedowns on its US nuclear business.

The government yesterday highlighted the nuclear industry as a key part of its industrial strategy, appointing NIA chairman Lord Hutton of Furness to “oversee work to improve UK competitiveness and skills in nuclear”.”

Times Newspapers (paywall)