London opens nuclear energy door

Hinkley plant decision clouded by concerns about other renewables and foreign meddling.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 15, 2016 at 8:29 AM
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LONDON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- With some restrictions, the British government said Thursday it was moving ahead with plans for the first nuclear power station in a generation.

French energy company EDF hailed the decision to go ahead with the $24 billion Hinkley Point C facility, which could meet close to 10 percent of the country's energy demands and add as many as 26,000 jobs to the British economy.

The company touted itself as a European leader in low-carbon efforts and now establishes itself firmly in the British power sector.

"The decision of the British government to approve the construction of Hinkley Point C marks the relaunch of nuclear power in Europe," EDF Group CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement.

A point of contention is the company's strategy to work "vigorously" with its Chinese partners at the China General Nuclear Power Corp. on serving the power needs of the British economy. British Secretary of State for Energy Greg Clark said the government will introduce measures to ensure the power plant can't change hands without its consent.

"We have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation," he said. "Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and we have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low-carbon energy security."

Clark's department reported primary energy consumption has decreased 14 percent over the last 10 years, with annual increases seen only in 2010 and 2015.

In the wake of Japan's nuclear disaster in 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered eight of the country's 17 nuclear reactors closed by the end of that year and a total shutdown by 2022. Simon Block, a campaigner with advocacy group Friends of the Earth, said nuclear energy is a fading trend for low-carbon opportunities.

"Hinkley is a project from a dying era, which would saddle Britons with eye-watering costs for decades, and radioactive waste for millennia," he said.

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