by Staff Writers
London (AFP) April 20, 2016
Britain's energy minister has expressed "full confidence" that the Hinkley Point nuclear plant will go ahead despite concerns, insisting the country's energy needs would be met should it hit obstacles.
Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, has addressed in a letter seen by media a number of concerns regarding Hinkley Point, which is to be built by French energy giant EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) by 2025.
The British government remains "fully confident that the project will go ahead", Rudd wrote in a letter to fellow MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, who chairs the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee and who had asked what the government would do if Hinkley were to be delayed or cancelled.
"While we have every confidence the deal will go ahead, we have arrangements in place to ensure that any potential delay or cancellation to the project does not pose a risk to security of supply for the UK," Rudd wrote in the letter dated April 12.
"I am clear that keeping the lights on is non-negotiable," she insisted.
Rudd however noted that in the case of any setbacks up to 2021, the government is "confident" of meeting any shortfall in the country's energy needs "and that alternative sources of supply would be unlikely to present a significant increase in cost to the consumer".
Rudd added: "I am also confident that alternative capacity could still be sourced if a risk of delay or cancellation emerged after this point, but this may come at a higher cost.
"There is also a risk though that any such delay could put at risk our decarbonisation targets - one of the key reasons the government is supporting Hinkley Point... in the first place," she added.
EDF last month said it was not planning any delay in the construction of the controversial plant.
The Financial Times, citing an internal white paper, said engineers at the utility had called for at least a two-year delay in the project and recommended a redesign of the reactor technology.
Hinkley Point will be Britain's first nuclear power plant in decades and is to provide seven percent of its energy needs by 2025.
With a projected cost of £18 billion ($26 billion, 23 billion euros), it will also be one of the world's most expensive nuclear power plants.
Questions have been raised about the financial viability of the project as EDF, 84-percent owned by the French state, is struggling with a debt pile of more than 37 billion euros ($42 billion).
Rudd used the letter also to express confidence "in the French government and EDF to facilitate a final investment decision in the near future".
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