EDF board members seek court annulment of Hinkley decision 

Posted: September 1, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, government, Nuclear power, Politics, Uncertainty
Tags: ,

Hinkley Point, Somerset [image credit: conservativehome.com]

Hinkley Point, Somerset
[image credit: conservativehome.com]

Seconds out, round 10 – or so it might seem in the Hinkley nuclear struggle. Who kept who in the dark [pun intended]? PEI’s Diarmaid Williams takes a ringside seat.

Five of the 17 board members who voted to approve a decision by EDF to press ahead with the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in England are now seeking a court annulment of that decision.

The board members, all union representatives, say they were not provided with information that was crucial to their decision on the day.

The sticking point is, they said, that Jean Bernard Ley, the company’s CEO was privy to information about the UK government’s intention to delay their decision on the project, and this was not shared with the board prior to the vote.

The board voted 10 to 7 in favour of the £18bn project late last month to build two reactors in Somerset, England. One board member resigned in protest against EDF’s strategy. “Some board members discovered they did not benefit from the same level of information as the CEO and government representative,” the CGT, CFE-CGC and FO unions said in a statement. The CFDT union did not sign the statement.

Shortly after the board meeting, the UK announced that it had postponed its final decision until early autumn to allow time for further review. FT reports that law firm Alain Levy, which represents the five union board members, said on Wednesday that it had filed a complaint with the Paris commercial court, adding that the case would be heard on September 5.

EDF declined to comment. EDF have acknowledged that Levy knew a signing ceremeony scheduled for the project site on the day after the board meeting had been postponed but the company maintain that he did not know a full review of the project would take place.

Full report: EDF board members seek court annulment of Hinkley decision – Power Engineering International

This one will run and run…oh, it already has.

  1. oldbrew says:


    ‘UK officials examining exit strategy from Hinkley Point deal’

    An unnamed civil servant told the Independent, “There is a working assumption of people in government that the civil service is looking for a way out, a legal loophole, a clause. They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.”

    The main contention about the deal so far is the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, which is deemed too expensive.

    The two new reactors that would be built at Hinkley are also of unproven design, with the two being constructed elsewhere beset by budget overruns and delays.

    The easiest exit route is obviously if EDF pull out, for whatever reason. Then China can’t blame the UK.

  2. A C Osborn says:

    The sooner the better, so a proven design can be put there instead.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Hitachi’s Wylfa nuclear project at Anglesey seems to be progressing.

  4. tom0mason says:

    You may enjoy this BBC piece by Roger Harrabin, apparently we don’t have to worry about the grid problems and blackout as renewables plus the ‘smart grid’ will save the day.

    A “smart energy” revolution could help ensure that the UK does not suffer blackouts, according to National Grid’s new UK chief.
    Nicola Shaw, its executive director, said technological advances will reduce the need to build new conventional power stations in the UK.
    An “internet of energy” will allow fridges, washers and dishwashers to help balance energy demand.
    Some commentators say the UK needs more gas-fired power to prevent blackouts.
    Ms Shaw agreed that more investment in gas-fired power was needed, but argued that between 30% and 50% of fluctuations on the electricity grid could be smoothed by households and businesses adjusting their demand at peak times….
    …In response, the GMB union called National Grid “naively complacent”. Justin Bowden, its national secretary, said: “Avoiding winter blackouts with a ‘smart energy’ revolution is fanciful nonsense. The smart grid is years away.
    “What’s needed to guarantee the lights stay on over the coming winters are new power stations and the go-ahead for Hinkley Point C.”

    But the CBI’s head of infrastructure, Michelle Hubert, said: “Over the next decade, the UK’s energy system will see a profound shift towards a more flexible and dynamic system. Consumers – both businesses and households – will become much more engaged in how they use, manage, and even produce energy.

    So there we are then, no panic as super-dooper yet to be proved technology will save the day.



  5. Harrabin really does live in a weird and wonderful fantasy land. I am also finding it hard to keep a grasp of reality here because for once I agree with a union 😉

  6. oldbrew says:

    ‘Ms Shaw agreed that more investment in gas-fired power was needed, but argued that between 30% and 50% of fluctuations on the electricity grid could be smoothed by households and businesses adjusting their demand at peak times’

    But it’s not going to happen. Businesses have already rejected the idea and households are unlikely to change their ways to please the National Grid.

    Report: Britain’s Plan To Save Energy By Paying Businesses To Shut Down Falls Apart

    ‘The National Grid wrote a letter Tuesday to “volunteers” announcing it was no longer paying businesses to not use electricity this winter because “too few users said they were willing to put themselves on standby,” according to The Financial Times’
    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/23/britains-plan-to-save-energy-by-paying-businesses-to-shut-down-falls-apart/

    Report: Health warning over plan to use hospital generators to avoid blackouts

    ‘National Grid’s drive for hospitals to help keep the UK’s lights on by using their back-up diesel generators is “highly questionable” because it will cause air pollution right in the vicinity of patients, a think-tank has warned.’

  7. oldbrew says:

    The site of the existing coal-fired power plant at Eggborough in northern England is to be transformed into a gas-fired power facility.

    Eggborough Power Limited has announced plans for a 2000 MW combined-cycle gas-fired power plant on the site in East Yorkshire.

  8. steverichards1984 says:

    If price (£92.50) is the alleged problem then: https://www.carbonbrief.org/uk-renewables-auction-pushes-down-costs shows that other UK costs are higher still……..

    ***One pot was reserved for “less established” technologies, including offshore wind and gasification. These projects were awarded much higher strike prices at an average of £117 per megawatt hour of electricity generated.***

  9. oldbrew says:

    Many problems: price, Chinese involvement, unproven technology, Austrian lawsuit, French union opposition – to name some.


    French President Francois Hollande’s government is concerned that discussions on the sidelines of the Group of 20 talks in China will sound the death knell for the Hinkley Point nuclear power project in the U.K., according to people involved in the talks.

    Maybe they should hope for it to die. EDF could lose its shirt if their similar Finnish project is anything to go by.

    Is the EPR finished? [as in: has no future]

    What Finland’s nuclear failure says about Hinkley

    At least 40% of the workforce at Hinkley – if it’s built – will be from outside the UK, which could mean anywhere.

  10. oldbrew says:

    via GWPF:
    Hinkley set to generate £100bn for EDF

    If they can build it and get it to work that is 😐

  11. richard verney says:

    Obviously the contractual framework could be complex, but generally if there is to be a written and signed contract, the contract is not complete and effective until it is drawn up and signed.

    If that is the case, since the UK has not signed the contract, they are not pulling out of the contract. They are pulling out of the negotiations, but that is something rather different.

    The problem for the UK may be loss of face, not breach of contract. Others may be less willing to deal with the UK if they consider that the UK are not genuine and willing to back away at a late stage.

    As others have noted, it would be useful if EDF itself backs out.

    One way or another, this project ought not to go ahead. At the same time the UK needs to radically rethink its energy strategy and how it will keep the lights on at an affordable price. In this regard, it should fast track shale, and as the US established, this will have the side advantage of actually reducing CO2 emissions (not that I, personally, am concerned about CO2 emissions that are useful plant fertilizer, but others are).

  12. oldbrew says:

    The only viable short-term option for the UK seems to be gas-fired power stations. At the moment the economics don’t work because renewables get priority on the grid, so hardly anything else gets built.

    As coal and nuclear plants close due to old age and/or political policy, this situation can only get worse unless the government acts. Waffling about energy storage or smart grids is just that: waffle.

  13. tallbloke says:

  14. oldmanK says:

    Some may find this interesting:


    Especially “When a plant goes into mothballs—especially because of poor economics—it’s often a harbinger of impending retirement. Upgrades to improve performance may help, but in changing markets, returns can be highly uncertain. Italian energy firm A2A partnered with GE to return one plant to profitability with a combination of hardware improvements and cloud-based analytics.”

    Why do they design plant without first studying their market fluctuations? Or is it that they buy blindly? I have seen examples of the latter. There may be solutions that don’t lead to bankruptcy.

  15. oldbrew says:

    Hinkley won’t happen without China, say experts

    “Without Bradwell, CGN will be out,” Steve Thomas, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Greenwich told Energydesk. “What Bradwell gives [China] is huge prestige that will help them in other export markets.”

    And if CGN is no longer involved then it’s curtains for the Hinkley project as a whole, according to Antony Froggatt, senior research fellow at Chatham House.

  16. oldbrew says:

    Hinkley gets the nod, no surprise.

    Just the French unions and the Austrian legal challenge to deal with now.

  17. oldbrew says:

    Maybe there’s a sting in the tail after all…

    Date: 15/09/16 Robin Pagnamenta, The Times

    The approval for Hinkley Point [Nuclear Power Plant] contains hefty caveats — and includes no mention at all of China’s one third investment in the scheme, worth £6bn.
    Neither did it contain any mention of Bradwell-on-Sea, the site where China hopes to build its own reactor using Chinese technology at a later stage.

    New legal powers will allow the UK government to veto any change in ownership of UK nuclear plants at a later date. […]

    Big questions persist over whether the Chinese will be willing to invest with so few assurances regarding their future investment plans.

    The ball will now land firmly in the court of EDF and its Chinese partner, with tough decisions now necessary over whether it can proceed on the terms set out today.