“Vital energy projects including the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and interconnectors used to import cheap electricity from Europe are under threat due to Brexit, energy experts have warned.
They said the projects, which are key to efforts to keep the UK’s lights on, could be at risk if the energy sector is denied entry to Europe’s internal energy market.
That looks increasingly likely, after the European parliament passed a resolution on Wednesday opposing “piecemeal or sectoral provisions” for individual UK industries.
Speaking at an event organised by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, experts said plans by French power firm EDF to build two new reactors at Hinkley Point C could be affected.
Antony Froggatt, senior research fellow at Chatham House, said EDF was already concerned that Brexit will make it harder to import skilled EU nationals to build Hinkley, which is slated to provide 7% of UK electricity.
“I was at a conference recently where EDF were saying their main concern about skills was specialised steel fitters for the construction of Hinkley,” he said.
“They said there were not enough in the country to build Hinkley and therefore this is the main area that they’re concerned about.”
He added that the staff shortage could be exacerbated by the building of the HS2 high-speed rail link, which will be competing with Hinkley to attract steel fitters.
EDF did not return requests for comment.
Froggatt and his fellow panellists at the ECIU event also raised concerns about the impact on plans for interconnectors, wires connecting the UK with the European electricity network.
Interconnectors are considered increasingly important as Britain turns to renewable energy, because they allow electricity to be imported to make up for shortfalls when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.
Plans are in place to build 14GW of interconnectors between the UK and countries including Norway, France, Belgium and Iceland.
But building them could prove less attractive to investors if the UK cannot remain part of Europe’s internal energy market.
This is because the agreement allows electricity to be automatically traded on a short-term “intra-day” basis, improving efficiency and making it more lucrative to build interconnectors. …”