Hinkley Point C nuclear project in crisis as EDF boss resigns

Resignation is latest blow in string of setbacks for world’s most expensive power project

Doubts are growing over the viability of the long awaited Hinkley Point C power station after the finance director behind the scheme quit in a row over the project.

Thomas Piquemal resigned after strongly opposing others on EDF’s board who want to give the project the green light.

Piquemal’s departure leaves the project in crisis with the remaining directors less able to make a decision to back the project in the immediate future.

Nuclear power stations currently provide around 18% of the UK’s total power usage. But half of the current capacity is expected to have been retired by 2025.

One of the major projects in the works aimed at replacing the dwindling stock of nuclear power stations is the controversial construction of the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset.

No new nuclear power station has opened in Britain since the Sizewell B plant, construction of which began in 1988.

And the government is keen to bring further nuclear capacity to the grid. This saw George Osborne pledge £2bn in government guarantees to EDF energy to hasten the project.

But Hinkley Point C has been mired in problems.

Union members on the EDF board oppose the project saying it is too expensive, and risks the company’s future. EDF has a mounting debt problem.

In January EDF delayed a final investment decision on the £18bn project because of spending concerns.

Then last month, Chris Bakken, Hinkley Point’s project director since 2011, stood down to take up a new role in the US.

Piquemal’s departure is the latest blow to hit the project.

Is this the end of the road for Hinkley Point C?

Meanwhile, despite government subsidy cuts, renewable energy has now overtaken coal and recently provided 25% of the country’s electricity for a whole quarter.

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