EDF Chief de Rivaz Says Areva Financial Woes Have Not Derailed Hinkley Point C Project

EDF Chief Executive Officer Vincent de Rivaz said at a nuclear convention in Britain that financial difficulties pressing on project partner Areva would not derail the $25 billion Hinkley Point C power station project slated for Somerset in southwest England.

There are legal matters yet to be cleared up before a probable construction start in the first quarter of 2015, de Rivaz said, but the largest concern has been the announcement in late November by Areva that said it would suspend its financial outlook for 2015 and 2016. The news sent its stock value sharply lower, as the company blamed delays at the Olkiluoto Island construction project in Finland and the service work slowdown in Japan for a significant disruption in cash flow.

Areva's financial situation cast a shadow of uncertainty on the Hinkley Point C European pressurized water reactors, a two-reactor project that had just had just been approved by the European Commission, which said that a 35-year price guarantee by the British government of $144.84 per megawatt hour did not constitute an illegal subsidy.

At the British Nuclear Industry Association conference, de Rivaz said the French government, which is Areva's majority shareholder, had agreed to support the company.

EDF would continue to look for investors to help finance the Hinkley Point C, which is expected to have its operational start in 2023. Currently, EDF is set to own 45 to 50 percent of the facility; China General Nuclear Corp. and China National Nuclear Corp. have signed in for a combined 30 to 40 percent and Areva is in the loop with about 10 percent.

At the conference, questions were raised concerning a possible shortage of skilled workers in Britain. NIA chairman John Hutton questioned the capacity of British supply firms for keeping up with build orders, while maintaining supplies for operational power plants and for plants ready for decommissioning.

An NIA opinion poll released at the conference, meanwhile, shows strong support for the protect with 45 percent of respondents supportive of new nuclear plants, while 20 percent were opposed.

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