“President Macron’s economy minister has accused the French state-owned company building Britain’s new nuclear plant of “unacceptable” failings as he threatened sweeping change at the group.
Bruno Le Maire said yesterday that the French nuclear sector was like “a state within a state” and he denounced cost overruns and delays in the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in Somerset and similar projects in Flamanville in Normandy and Olkiluoto in Finland. “We will not accept this drift month after month, year after year,” Mr Le Maire said.
His words appeared to weaken the position of Jean-Bernard Lévy, 64, who was given a second four-year term as chief executive of EDF by Mr Macron in February.
Mr Le Maire said that he had ordered an independent audit into the French nuclear industry, which provides about 75 per cent of nation’s electricity, and into the decision to build a new generation of the increasingly questioned European pressurised reactors in Britain, France, Finland and China. The conclusions will be delivered on October 31, he said.
The audit will interest Whitehall, given that the EPRs being built in Somerset are supposed to supply 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity. EDF said last week that Hinkley Point C would cost £3 billion more than expected and may not meet its latest launch date of 2025, which is already eight years late.
The glitches at Hinkley Point C come after setbacks at Flamanville, which initially was due to come on stream in 2012 at a cost of €3.3 billion, but which will not now be linked to the grid until 2022 at the earliest at a cost of at least $10.9 billion. The Finnish plant was scheduled to be operational in 2009, but is still not complete.
Noting the lastest delays at Flamanville, Mr Le Maire said: “Now we learn that the costs of the nuclear reactor in Britain have drifted. All this drifting is unacceptable.”
The French state owns 83.7 per cent of EDF. Mr Macron wants to split the group in two, placing its nuclear activities in a wholly state-owned unit and floating the rest.”
Source: Times (pay wall)