by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) April 24, 2016
France's energy giant EDF will give the final green light to the controversial construction of two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Britain in September, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said Sunday.
French President Francois Hollande "has confirmed France's engagement" in the project, and "the final decision on investment could be confirmed in September", Macron said in an interview with weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
The final investment decision had been expected in May, but EDF, which is 85 percent owned by the French state, announced a delay on Friday saying it first had to consult with an internal committee as demanded by France's unions. This could set the project back for several months.
"The investment in the two reactors at Hinkley Point will be equivalent to a year of investments by EDF. This won't shake its financial trajectory," Macron added, denying rumours France could pull out of the project.
Macron added that the project would promote French technology in the face of American, Chinese and Russian competition.
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 PND 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 is struggling with a debt pile of more than 37 billion euros ($42 billion).
On Friday, the French government announced that it would plough three billion euros ($3.4 bn) into the energy provider, as part of a four-billion-euro capital increase.
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