The UK government’s plan to build a new nuclear power station is in danger of collapse amid turmoil at the French group which designed the reactor, experts warned today.
Areva, the crisis-torn nuclear company, could be forced to pull out of the consortium set to build the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Hinkley Point as its losses escalate, it is feared.
Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at Greenwich University, said that with Chinese groups getting cold feet over their participation in the reactor, it ‘could be curtains for the project’.
Mr Thomas said the EPR chosen by David Cameron was a ‘bad, unbuildable design’.
The difficulties come after Areva, which is state controlled, admitted that with losses escalating, it was unable to set financial targets for the next two years.
Le Monde, the French daily, said its failings had plunged the entire French nuclear industry into ‘torment’.
Areva designed the Hinkley Point C plant, and is due to deliver its steam supply and instrumentation and control systems.
EDF the French state-owned electricity giant is due to take a 50 per cent stake in the consortium at Hinkley Point, with China’s General Nuclear Corporation and National Nuclear Corporation taking about 35 per cent between them and Areva 10 per cent.
But Mr Thomas said the Chinese groups were ‘not committed’ to the reactor and Areva no longer had the financial muscle to back it. ‘Areva’s never going to be able to take 10 per cent’ he said.