by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 30, 2016
French power company EDF said on Wednesday it is not planning any delay in the construction of the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear plant which is to go onstream in 2025.
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, which EDF is to build in partnership with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), 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 (23.2 billion euros, $25.5 billion) it will also be one of the world's most expensive nuclear power plants.
EDF said in a statement that "unfounded rumours and fanciful information" had been published concerning Hinkley Point in recent days.
"EDF denies these rumours, confirms that the date for the first reactor going online is fixed for the end of 2025 and that no delay is being envisaged," it said.
It said "this anonymous press campaign" was hurting EDF's interests and those of its subsidiaries and staff.
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.
EDF has reportedly asked the government to help it finance the contested plan to build Hinkley Point, and French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said this month that the French government was willing to inject fresh capital into the energy giant if necessary.
He subsequently said that EDF would take a final investment decision on the plant by early May.
Also this month, EDF's finance chief resigned, with a source close to the project saying he stepped down over a disagreement about Hinkley Point.
On Wednesday, an EDF board member representing staff, Christian Taxil, said in an open letter that at this point he would not vote in favour of the project.
"The price of the project continues to rise and the design still hasn't stabilised" as the new model reactor has yet to enter service.
Moreover, "EDF's financial situation is already strained" and has been weakened by "particularly bad market conditions".
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