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Re: Government Big Projects..... and how they can go wrong

I should point out that Hinkley C isn't a Chinese reactor - it's a French reactor. EDF stands for "Électricité de France", and the firm is also the world's biggest producer of electricity. I think the background to how the Chinese got involved in Hinkley was that Centrica (owners of British Gas) had a 20% stake in the Hinkley project for several years. Centrica was rather a strange partner to have in a nuclear power plant project, as they are predominantly associated with natural gas, and might be expected to have a vested interest in nuclear projects not actually going ahead. Centrica pulled out of the Hinkley project in early 2013 and EDF had to look for a substitute, and some Chinese companies then came in to replace Centrica. There is the possibility of a Chinese reactor being built in the UK in a few years time (at Bradwell in Essex), but that isn't a formality, as they would have to get their design accepted by the UK's nuclear regulator (and quite a few international nuclear firms seem to have pulled out after dealing with the UK's nuclear regulator).

But the way the Lib Dems have set up the Hinkley C project, you don't really have to worry about a St Helena airport-type fiasco occurring. The Hinkley project is actually set up from the outset as though such a fiasco might occur. The UK taxpayer doesn't pay for the construction of Hinkley C, only for the high priced electricity that eventually comes out of it. If the project got into major difficulties, like say taking 20 years to build or hardly any electricity being generated when it became operational, those costs would not be met by the UK taxpayer (I'm not sure who would be paying, it might mainly be French and Chinese taxpayers).

I'm not quite sure what was going on a while back when Theresa May decided to hold up the Hinkley C project for about a month or so. UK financial and business journalists all seemed to think the project was going to be cancelled, which I thought myself was unlikely, but those sort of journalists were also unable to forsee the EU Referendum result. I speculated in the Hinkley Point Big Numbers thread that Theresa May might be intervening to reduce the £92.50/MWh electricity price figure (the price for the equivalent of the Hinkley C design in France, at Flamanville, is reputed to be less than £60/MWh), but that didn't happen. It looks like May might have held things up simply because she didn't trust people like David Cameron, George Osborne and Ed Davey.

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