Minister emphasizes importance of Hinkley Point project

Energy policy/United Kingdom/Hinkley Point EPR project – Reply by M. Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 29 March 2016

The subject of Hinkley Point is indeed of the greatest importance, because it’s about whether we have the capability to produce and sell an EPR in developed markets – nothing more and nothing less.

Is the project entirely free of risks? No. What’s our collective responsibility? To reduce them.

To that end, there’s a framework: namely, the board of the company – which, as you know, is quoted on the stock exchange and in which we’re the majority shareholders –, and we have representatives on that board, sitting alongside representatives of the employees and of independent administrators.

There’s no secret report. There’s been the activity of a financial director who, in a position of responsibility and under two successive CEOs, has championed and led the project from the outset.

Moreover, since 2013 the Hinkley Point project has been the focus of several independent reports at the request of the board of directors, including a report by Accuracy [Consulting] in 2015, for evaluations, and M. d’Escatha’s report.

All these documents have been discussed by the administrators in the framework of the board of directors. I know no secret document – which is supposed to have been issued in what framework? –; I know only documents that have been issued and discussed in the framework of the board, which is the right policy and the right way of doing things.

In this context, the legal risks have been weighed up. At this stage it seems to us that they’re being dispelled and that our rights – those of EDF – are indeed protected in the framework of the contractual agreement signed with the British government. They won’t be finalized until May, when we’ll sign the definitive documents.

Finally, financial and operational issues are currently being discussed and will be the focus of forthcoming board meetings, during which we’ll defend the interests of taxpayers and of EDF./.

Energy policy/Electricité de France (EDF)/United Kingdom – Hearing of M. Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, before the National Assembly Economic Affairs Committee (excerpts)

Paris, 22 March 2016


There’s still the final decision which has to be taken by EDF on Hinkley Point and which is giving rise to many concerns. The decision will probably not be made official on 30 March, but, more reasonably, at the beginning of May, i.e. before EDF’s General Assembly and in a timeframe which allows our British partners to have complete visibility on this critical investment, ahead of the important decisions they’re preparing for. We need time to work on a set of measures which go beyond just the Hinkley Point project.

Let me remind you that this is a project promoted and supported by the company’s last two executive committees and the government, in a manner consistent with our energy strategy, in which nuclear energy retains a predominant share and is still destined, for the next 10 to 15 years, to account for roughly 50% of our energy production.

Not only does nuclear energy form the basis of our energy sovereignty, it’s an industry which offers us important job-creating international markets, bringing industrial benefits for the country. The developed world’s main nuclear project today is Hinkley Point. Can we legitimately decide that investing in it isn’t a good choice? I, for one, don’t think so. The coherence between our energy strategy, our industrial strategy and the strategy of the company requires this to be done, but in an organized framework with all necessary visibility regarding the project’s financial feasibility.

Hinkley Point accounts for 15% of EDF’s planned investment over the next few years. It must take its place next to investment in renewable energy, investment needed for major streamlining, the acquisition of Areva NP and all the projects which are going to necessitate a total annual investment of €11 to 15 billion.

The first actual disbursements won’t take place until the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019. In view of this, the British government has committed to EDF and the French state to acquire the electricity produced at a guaranteed price for 35 years. This commitment has been validated by the European Commission. It enables us to secure the project’s profitability for 60 years, at around 9% a year. So beyond the short-term financial difficulties, Hinkley Point is a good long-term industrial and financial investment. Every energy producer is on the lookout for such a project…

Finally, let’s remember it relies on entirely French technology, even though the production won’t be carried out entirely in France, because we have partners in this business such as the Chinese and Japanese. For example, the latter will manufacture the reactor vessel – a sensitive issue if ever there was one –, which therefore won’t have the same characteristics as that of Flamanville.

Before taking its final decision, EDF must ensure all the conditions are met for profitability and risk control. The state, in its capacity as shareholder, will be especially mindful of this. The cost of construction is estimated at €10.5 billion per tranche. (…)./.

Photo: Richard Baker

Published on 05/07/2016

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