Nuclear inaction – it’s hotting up

Owl says: no worries, our Local Enterprise Partnership has it all under control. What? It doesn’t? It’s getting very warm in here …

Business Commentary – Alistair Osborne (The Times – paywall)

“Lucky the National Audit Office got its Hinkley Point C report out last week. Then, it merely concluded that the government had “locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits”. Oh, and that the reactor was of “unproven” design and other projects incorporating it were “experiencing difficulties”.

Well, guess what?

The £18 billion bill is shooting up and Hinkley Point could be another two years late, at least if you believe Le Monde. A report over the weekend added a potential £2.7 billion to the cost of the project and put back the start date to 2027 — conjecture hardly denied by the main contractor, France’s EDF, which must pay for any cost hikes. It said only that it was doing a “full review of the costs and schedule”.

Still, all that’s just for starters. More alarmingly, France’s nuclear watchdog has just produced a howitzer of a ruling over one of the two prototypes for Hinkley: a similar European Pressurised Reactor at Flamanville in France.

Having ordered a review of the nuke after finding carbon spots in the reactor vessel, the regulator has now told EDF it will have to replace the vessel cover within a few years of operation unless it can pass further tests — a bit tricky as the cover is no longer accessible.

The upshot? It’ll be replacing the cover on a live nuke, much to the delight of the locals. Anyway, this is the kit on its way to Somerset. Gives you such a warm glow.”