Boris Johnson takes aim at Labour for lack of nuclear energy
Millions of Brits are now feeling the shock of the global energy crisis as the Ofgem price cap increase has come into effect today. From April 1, households are facing a 54 percent increase in energy bills, amounting to an average increase of £700 per year. One major reason for this crisis is the conflict in Ukraine, with Russia threatening to withhold gas supplies to Europe, causing prices to skyrocket.
In light of the geopolitical conflict, the UK is set to announce its energy security strategy next week – with both nuclear and wind energy set to play a huge part.
However, an expert has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson against investing in nuclear energy, particularly from the French state-backed EDF.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Paul Dorfman, an associate fellow at the University of Sussex said: “The UK has a very strong relationship with EDF, they own and run the substance of UK reactors and are helping to build Hinckley point and the rest of it.
“However, EDF are in debt. Moodys, the financial organisation has recently downgraded EDF’s credit rating.
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A quarter of all of France’s reactors are currently offline due to safety and security problems, that’s largely because they have an ageing nuclear fleet, like us.
“In order to kind of try to prolong their lifespan, the French government has big upgrade of their nuclear.
“The cost estimates are around £70-80 billion just to upgrade, just to keep them tottering on.”
The French Government owns 84 percent of the energy company EDF, which has a subsidiary company operating in the UK.
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EDF energy projects in the UK
EDF is currently constructing the Hinckley Point C nuclear power station and is also adding new reactors to Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex.
Dr Dorfman has warned that these new reactors constructed by EDF are the same type of EPR reactors that were built in France, which the French court of Auditors estimated cost an extra €19billion (almost £16 billion).
He continued: “EDF is clear about the need for Government investment in order to proceed with Sizewell C.”
In its annual report released this week, the French state-owned company said it plans to reduce its 66 percent stake in the project to “no more than” 20 percent, so that it can “deconsolidate” the new build from its balance sheet.
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The Sizewell B power plant in the UK, which is run by the EDF
He said: “So, why would EDF want to distance itself from Sizewell C, unless it didn’t make economic sense?
“The Government is seeking to invest in Sizewell C, which are essentially failing reactors, according to the French audit office, which are nevertheless being built.
“The main cost of nuclear is the upfront construction costs, and that’s the issue, coming up with £20-30billion, coming up with huge amounts of money.”
If the Government owns such a large stake in the new nuclear projects, Dr Dorfman warned that the cost of construction and overruns would be paid for by the British taxpayers.
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Macron is likely to nationalise the EDF
This could be a major opportunity for French President Emmanuel Macron, with Dr Dorfman warning that the French government may look to nationalise EDF, controlling it entirely.
He added: “Because of EDF’s debt problems, Macron is considering seriously nationalising EDF.
“It’s looking more and more that the French government will take over EDF.
“Macron is on an election year and he’s making all kinds of promises.
“The government owns 84 percent of EDF, and because of its massive debt, the French Government will scoop up the rest.”
Such a profitable energy deal with the UK could also bolster his election chances.
Express has reached out to EDF for a response.