Prominent UK Politician Highlights Importance of Hinkley Point Reactor Negotiations

As the British government and EDF push back another target date for completing negotiations over new reactor construction at Hinkley Point, a prominent former politician has argued that the outcome will have far-reaching consequences for both nuclear power and energy policy in the UK.

In an editorial published in The Telegraph newspaper Saturday, John Hutton wrote that, "Failure to reach agreement on the price of nuclear electricity threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake."

Hutton, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, is a former member of Parliament who has also served as Britain's defense secretary and business secretary. He noted that 25 percent of the negotiated strike price of nuclear-generated power will go to the government in taxes, and he said the current comparisons with cheap natural gas are shortsighted given reactors' development time. If an agreement can't be reached for the price of nuclear power, he contended it would also call into question the ability of the country to reach similar agreements for other carbon-reducing technologies, such as offshore wind power and carbon capture.

The Hinkley Point project, he argued, would refresh the country's knowledge base and industry in a growing global market for nuclear power. He also said the industry estimates the experience of building the first units would reduce the cost of subsequent reactors by 20 percent.

In the meantime, he wrote, EDF has already spent $1.53 billion on Hinkley Point at a current rate of $1.5 million per day. In a separate story, the Telegraph quoted an EDF executive last week as saying the negotiations should close by the end of the month after passing an earlier target in March.

The editorial can be found in its entirety here.

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