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Nuclear Blackmail: Huhne’s Energy Policy Unravelling

As energy companies put projects on hold, government plans for new nuclear reactors are in danger of unravelling. Experts expect that EDF will demand even more generous subsidies.

EDF Energy has indicated that it will not build the first of Britain’s new nuclear reactors by 2018, despite earlier promises.

Vincent de Rivaz, the energy group’s chief executive, told The Times that the reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset would be ready “when the UK needs it”. Mr de Rivaz said that Britain no longer needed the reactor to be ready by that date because the financial crisis of 2009 and energy efficiency measures had reduced long-term electricity demand.

He said that a delay in building the reactor, which will push back his company’s intention to build a second reactor on the site by 2020, will not threaten Britain’s energy security. “It’s not a gamble at all. I will not let down the country,” he said. […]

It will be operational in 2016, four years later than planned, the company said, and will cost €6 billion (£5.3 billion), almost twice its original price. Mr de Rivaz said that the delays were “quite normal” because it was the first of a new generation of reactors to be built in France.

The Government’s plans for new nuclear reactors are in danger of unravelling. The Times revealed in May that E.ON and RWE, the German companies that have formed the Horizon new-build consortium, have put their plans on hold because of financial pressures and Germany’s anti-nuclear stance after the Fukushima disaster.

The Government is keen not to be reliant on one company to deliver its nuclear policy, but industry executives fear that EDF Energy will extract even more generous subsidies.

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