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the two EPR nuclear reactors planned at Hinkley Point in southwest England, they release an earth day ? After months of hesitation and debate, EDF decided Thursday, July 28 to start their construction, one of the most ambitious projects of its history. Despite the opposition of a large part of the staff, administrators gathered in Paris gave the green light to this encrypted investment on paper at 18 billion pounds (21.4 billion euros). Fingers crossed that this project high risk does not take EDF to bankruptcy, as predicted by environmentalists, but also some group executives …
Armed with this authorization, the CEO, Jean- Bernard Lévy, hoped to sign the final agreement on Friday with the British state, project keystone. But in the evening, surprise: hardly had the board made its decision Greg Clark, the new minister of trade and energy, was quitting everything. “ The government will now carefully analyze all aspects of this project and will make its decision in early autumn ,” he said. EDF’s leaders had to cancel their trip to disaster.
Will The British new executive questioning the commitments of the former? recent weeks after Brexit, contacts with the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and his team on the contrary confirmed the British will to move forward, despite fierce criticism in the UK. M me May, however, meant a final check all aspects of the case before pressing – or not – on the
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the unions hostile to the project
it might have been sensitive to the financial and industrial assembly, which gives pride to the Chinese giant China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). This must hold 33.5% of the center and build another in the UK. While the government of David Cameron had the ambition to make the City a bridgehead for Chinese investment in Europe, M me May seem more reserved. “ help all Chinese with their gold? “ Nick asked Timothy, his first political advisor in the journal Conservative Home in October 2015. And answered:” The first thing that appears on their shopping list is British silent on the violations of human rights. “
This new period in all cases complicates the task of Mr. Levy, who thought he had crossed the main obstacles. EDF has already spent more than $ 2.5 billion to design the plant, buy the land, the defeat, etc. The priority now must be to complete contracts quickly. The one with London, but also those with CGN and with major suppliers including Areva and Bouygues. Objective: to commission the first reactor in nine years and seven months in February 2026. A tight schedule
In France too, the decision was difficult to take.. For months, the State shareholder is shared on the relevance of the project, the energy minister, Segolene Royal, fearing that it prevents EDF to invest in renewable energy. The company, especially, appears deeply divided. If Mr. Lévy and his close campaign for the start of work, many executives and all unions are hostile to it.
Thursday council , tense, reflected these dissensions. Only ten directors eighteen voted in favor of the project. The six employee representatives opposed it, and the former president of MEDEF, Laurence Parisot. As for Gérard Magnin, a former regional representative of the Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME), joined the Board in 2014 on a proposal from the State shareholder, he preferred to slam the door a few hours before the meeting
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This is the second spectacular resignation after that of CFO, Thomas Thornton, left in March for not condone “a decision which, in case of trouble, to bring EDF in a situation similar to that of Areva,” that a large public company under threat of bankruptcy.
It’s that Hinkley Point reports to the bet. In the eyes of the authorities, this project is crucial for giving new impetus to a French nuclear industry in capilotade, and provide work for Areva. EDF management, it ensures that it is a sound project, secure, and highly profitable, thanks precisely to the contract negotiated with London: electricity produced will be sold to a previously fixed price and exceeds the current market price. This corresponds to a state aid valued at 29.7 billion pounds over thirty-five years provided, according to the National Audit Office, the British equivalent of the Court of Auditors
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the group is indebted
But this bonanza EDF not see the color as if time and budget are met. But many doubt that this is the case. The schedule plans to build two EPRs in a shorter time than those under construction in Finland, France and even China. “Keep this period requires that productivity ratios have never been able to achieve is a figment of the imagination,” a judge of those who have studied the file in depth. Especially since it is a specific EPR adapted to the demands of the British authorities and the land.
At Olkiluoto, Finland, and Flamanville, in the Channel, two European EPR starts have known the contrary catastrophic blunders. Worldwide, no EPR has yet produced any kilowatt. Management, she says she has just learned from these unfortunate experiences, and will, this time, control the project.
For opponents, EDF engage in such betting could be playable if the company had been at its best. This is not the case. The group is overindebted, the stock lost 45% of its value in one year, the stock has been excluded from the CAC 40 end 2014. The results have started to decline (- 17% in the first half), and excess production capacity power in Europe are likely to weigh durably on prices and profits across the sector.
Hinkley Point “puts in risk EDF”
at the same time, EDF already has huge investments in order to modernize its plants. Moreover, the group has agreed to save the sinking Areva, resuming its activities in reactors through 2.5 billion euros, despite the dilapidation of this branch. An agreement to this effect was signed on Thursday.
To take the shock, EDF has obtained the state soon brings him 3 billion euros and initiated asset sales. “But the company is still fragile, recognizes a board member. The slightest glitch on the EPR or elsewhere, any risk of falling … “
The unions do not say anything. Hinkley Point “puts in risk EDF and beyond, the nuclear industry, have responded to the CGT, CFE-CGC and FO Friday morning. The Board’s decision reflects its determination to support the government and not to defend only the interests of EDF. It is more than ever urgent to wait! “ Maybe M me May she give them succeed …
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