More pain for UK nuclear plans as the finance issue erupts again and French unions claim the reactor design is still faulty. Analogies to sinking ships and rats spring to mind.
EDF has confirmed that its finance director has quit ahead of an expected final investment decision on the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Thomas Piquemal stepped down because he feared the project could jeopardise EDF’s financial position, according to reports.
EDF shares opened 8.2% lower on Monday. Last month, Chris Bakken, the director of the project that could produce 7% of UK electricity by 2025, said he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.
EDF has provisionally appointed Xavier Girre, who joined the company last year as finance director of its French business, as the group finance chief. The company’s board is expected to finalise in April how it will fund the project after postponing the decision a number of times. The project has been plagued by delays, but publicly the firm has insisted a decision to move forward is imminent.
In October last year, EDF agreed a deal under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would pay a third of the cost of the £18bn project in exchange for a 33.5% stake. But according to reports, EDF is struggling to find the cash for its remaining 66.5% stake and is seeking help from the French government, which owns 84.5% of EDF.
The company is also facing opposition from French union officials, who have suggested that investment in Hinkley Point C should be delayed until 2019. The CFE-CGC Energy union said there were problems with a similar reactor design in France that needed to be solved.
The new Hinkley plant was originally due to open in 2017, and it has come under fire for both its cost and delays to the timetable for building.