Letter: Hinkley Point C will bring great value

In a letter to the Financial Times, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz writes:

It is a shame that great infrastructure projects are often criticised before they begin — only to be recognised later for the value they bring. It is always good to face questions and challenges but your editorial (“UK should think again about Hinkley Point nuclear power station,” September 10) is based on some misleading assumptions.

Your comparison with the current market price is not a benchmark for the price of electricity in the next decades. Today’s price depends on polluting fossil fuels and ageing power plants. Our project will ensure we do not need to continue to depend on them in the future.

We need to replace the majority of our electricity generation with low-carbon energy and new nuclear is substantially cheaper than other options.

Far from being more expensive than renewables, new nuclear power stations will save customers 10 per cent on their electricity bills in the future, compared with other low carbon choices, according to government studies and our own analysis.

Intermittent low carbon energy sources have their place but a stable low carbon electricity system depends on a reliable base that only nuclear can provide.

Our project is based on proven technology. The EPR is a pressurised water reactor with the highest safety standards that society rightly demands. We run 58 PWRs in France and there are 277 around the world. Thanks to the visionary investment made 40 years ago France now has the cheapest electricity in Europe.

The country has spent too long avoiding the big decisions required to invest in major infrastructure. Far from being a mistake Sizewell B in Suffolk is a success. The cost of its electricity is far below what you suggest. If the country had continued with the new nuclear programme despite the gas price slump of the 1980s, we would now have a modern efficient fleet at low cost. If anything, Britain bet and could have succeeded, but left the table before collecting its winnings.

After many years of careful analysis and scrutiny by those accountable in government, Brussels and elsewhere we are about to move to a decision. Short-term events have not changed the long-term case on which this project was based and its price deemed fair.

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