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EDF finance officer resigns over Hinkley Point project

March 7, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




From the Telegraph:


Thomas Piquemal, the finance director of French energy giant EDF, has resigned over the company’s plan to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, a source familiar with the situation said.

The source confirmed a Bloomberg report which said Mr Piquemal had resigned because pushing ahead now with the £18bn project would jeopardise the company’s financial situation.

The Telegraph understands that Mr Piquemal was a long-term opponent of Hinkley.

Two other sources familiar with the situation said EDF’s board had not yet formally been informed of Mr Piquemal’s resignation. The board is set to meet on Tuesday, one source said.

An EDF spokesman declined to comment.


Sources told Reuters last month that EDF’s unions – which have six seats on the company’s board – would vote against the project as it stands right now and want EDF to delay the UK project until it has developed a new and simplified version of the Areva-designed European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) it plans to build in Hinkley Point.

French media have reported that top EDF officials have also expressed reservations about the feasibility of the project.

Two EPRs under construction in France and Finland are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget and two more under construction in China have also suffered long delays.

EDF – which is 85pc state-owned – has borrowed billions of euros just to pay dividends to its state shareholder in recent years and its earnings are under pressure from record low wholesale electricity prices.

It needs to spend some €55bn to upgrade its ageing French nuclear plants, €5bn in a smart meter rollout and several billion euros to take over and restructure the reactor unit of fellow state-owned Areva.


EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy said last month he expected the company would take a final investment decision on the British Hinkley Point nuclear plant "this year", after having said several times in recent months that the decision would be taken "soon".

Levy also said he expected EDF would pour its first concrete for Hinkley Point in 2019 and that any potential exit of Britain from the European Union would not change the plan.

The project was first announced in October 2013 and EDF announced a partnership for it with Chinese utility CGN in October 2015, but an investment decision has been delayed several times.


EDF have now released this statement:




So we appear to have a situation where EDF, which has had to borrow money to pay its dividend, is now relying on the French government to stump up or guarantee billions more if Hinkley is to go ahead.

Meanwhile Amber Rudd whittles on about smart meters!

  1. A C Osborn permalink
    March 7, 2016 5:37 pm

    Paul, have you seen the Times article by Matt Ridley.

    Excellent piece indeed, shown on the GWPF and in Tallbloke’s Comments.

  2. March 7, 2016 6:09 pm

    I know you shouldn’t judge jam by the picture on the pot……
    but… he looks like a ‘spiv’

  3. March 8, 2016 6:32 pm

    Enter the BBC with the comment that the resignation could be positive in terms of the project going ahead.Now how did we know that they would say that?

  4. tom0mason permalink
    March 9, 2016 9:04 am

    People may wish to contrast and compare how South Korea does things as they have just grid connected their APR1400 nuclear reactor.

    “Nearly eight years since construction kicked off in October 2008—despite years of delays posed by delivery delays and a crippling documentation scandal that required cabling replacements—Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) put Shin Kori 3 (Figure 2) online on January 15. A twin reactor at Shin Kori 4 is expected to start up in 2017… Meanwhile, two more APR1400s are under construction at Shin Hanul (Units 1 and 2) and should come online between April 2017 and February 2018.”
    Also of note is the price…
    “According to state-owned KHNP, the APR1400 evolved from the “well-proven” OPR1000 Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant design, taking just 10 years and 234.6 billion won ($193 million) to develop…”
    — about £137 million, to develop.

    Hinkley Point…

    From 19 October 2005 to 18 February 2006 the project was submitted to a national public debate.

    On 4 May 2006 the decision was made by EDF’s Board of Directors to continue with the construction.

    Between 15 June and 31 July 2006 the unit underwent a public enquiry, which rendered a “favorable opinion” on the project.[45] That summer site preparation works began.

    On March 17, 2007 simultaneous protests, organised by Sortir du nucléaire, were staged in five French towns to protest construction of EPR plants; Rennes, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, and Strasbourg.[46][47] In December 2007 construction of the unit itself began. This was expected to last 54 months.

    In April 2008 the French nuclear safety agency (Autorité de sûreté nucléaire, ASN) reported that a quarter of the welds inspected in the secondary containment steel liner are not in accordance with norms, and that cracks have been found in the concrete base. EDF stated that progress was being made on these issues raised very early in construction;[48] however, on 21 May ASN ordered a suspension of concrete pouring on the site.[49] A month later concreting work resumed after ASN accepted EDF’s corrective action plan which included external oversight checks.[50]

    In May 2009 professor Stephen Thomas reported that after 18 months of construction and after a series of quality control problems, the project is “more than 20 percent over budget and EDF is struggling to keep it on schedule”.[32]

    In August 2010 the regulator, ASN, reported further welding problems on the secondary containment steel liner.[51] The same month EDF announced that costs had increased 50% to €5 billion, and commissioning was delayed by about two years to 2014.[51]

    In July 2011 EDF announced that the estimated costs had escalated to €6 billion and that completion of construction was delayed to 2016[52]

    On 3 December 2012 EDF announced that the estimated costs had escalated to €8.5 billion[53]

    In December 2012 the Italian power company Enel announced it was relinquishing its 12.5% stake in the project, and 5 future EPRs, so would be reimbursed its project stake of €613 million plus interest.[54][55]

    In November 2014 EDF announced that completion of construction was delayed to 2017 due to delays in component delivery by Areva.[56]

    In April 2015 Areva informed the French nuclear regulator that anomalies had been detected in the reactor vessel steel, causing “lower than expected mechanical toughness values”. Further tests are underway.[3] In July 2015 The Daily Telegraph reported that Areva had been aware of this problem since 2006.[57]

    In June 2015 multiple faults in cooling system safety valves were discovered by ASN.[58]

    In September 2015 EDF announced that the estimated costs had escalated to €10.5 billion, and the start-up of the reactor was delayed to the fourth quarter of 2018.[59]

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