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expert reaction to today’s confirmed Hinkley Point deal

It has been announced that a deal has been agreed for Britain’s first nuclear power plant in a generation to be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.


Prof. Catherine Mitchell, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Exeter, said:

“The Conservative government remains without a credible energy policy, in part because its only idea is to help out France – who is busily reducing their own national nuclear capacity down from 80% to 50%  – and China  – by providing a site for them to learn how to build a power plant.

“Never mind that it is so expensive and will make almost no difference to our carbon reduction targets whilst acting as a giant boulder in the road to a smart, integrated energy system. We could practically have an escalator to Iceland, never mind an interconnector at this price.”


Prof. Jim Watson, Director of the UK Energy Research Centre, said:

“It now looks very likely that Hinkley C will go ahead. Whether or not this leads to further reactors at Sizewell and Bradwell remains to be seen. The costs of the Hinkley deal are high, partly due to a lack of competition – and partly due to the inherent financial risks of building a nuclear power project on this scale, and the delays that have beset plants using the same reactor design in Finland and France.

“If nuclear power is to play a significant role in the UK’s low carbon transition beyond the Hinkley project, subsequent projects will need to have much lower costs. For nuclear and other forms of low carbon power generation, the government should introduce as much competition as possible to put downward pressure on costs.”


Dr Dame Sue Ion, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“It is excellent news that the deal is finally going ahead, enabling EDF to take the final investment decision and mobilise the project at Hinkley Point. This is what the nuclear industry has been waiting for these past few years, and importantly, it will give confidence in the nuclear sector’s longevity.

“Although the UK may have been behind the curve in maximising the opportunity for UK suppliers in high end manufacturing for the first one or two units, the announcement of this deal will create valuable future opportunities for UK companies and for UK civil engineering at the highest level: from speciality modelling and simulation to top end construction. By stepping up to the plate to fulfil the opportunities to become qualified suppliers of future units, they will increase their capability and capacity to globally competitive levels”

“China has a good record in building, operating and regulating a nuclear fleet, and because of the scale of the investment made over the last 3-4 decades has an excellent skill base in designing, manufacturing and operating international nuclear power plants. Not only will China bring significant finance to enable the project at Hinkley to succeed, it will also bring a wealth of experience and lessons learned from the EPR projects deployed in China, so the EPR projects here in the UK will benefit significantly.

“The UK can also learn from China’s success in taking a long-term, strategic approach to major infrastructure projects. It is not just their nuclear industry that has benefitted: they have built other globally competitive industries as a result, such as steel and heavy manufacturing. ”


Andrew Furlong, Director of Policy at the Institution of Chemical Engineers, said:

“Britain’s nuclear future hung in the balance and China came to the rescue.  Nevertheless, the deal is good news for investors, for chemical engineers and crucially, for our low carbon future.”


Prof. Alan Woodward, Visiting Professor of Computing at the University of Surrey, said:

“The security of critical national infrastructure is vital, and these power stations represent another area in which the Chinese are heavily involved. It won’t be the physical security that matters but the cyber security.  We don’t want a foreign power being able to quite literally turn off the lights from some remote location.

“We’ve already have Huawei involved in our major networks through BT and the 21st Century Network construction. The way that was handled must be repeated with these new endeavours – a special unit was formed, staffed by UK government cleared personnel, to pore over every bit and byte of how the Huawei equipment was monitored and controlled.

“We saw what could happen with Stuxnet when an external cyber attack was mounted. We don’t want there to be something built into the control systems from the get go. Independent, highly skilled scrutiny of these systems will be vital if we are to be sure our critical national infrastructure is truly secure.”


Declared interests

None declared


This Rapid Reaction was updated 15:18 21/10/2015 following confirmation of the deal.

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