UK Nuclear Power Boom

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted March 20, 2013

French utility company EDF Energy won approval from British energy minister Edward Davey in the construction of a new nuclear plant that is expected to be fully functional sometime in the 2020s.

The new plant would be known as Hinkley Point C, located near the shoreline of south-west England, and it is expected to supply energy to 5 million homes, or 7 percent of Britain’s energy system, as reported in The New York Times.

According to BBC News, Hinkley Point A supplied energy to Britain since 1965 and subsequently closed in 1999 – though it’s still in the process of being decommissioned. Hinkley Point B has been running since 1976, but the plant is scheduled to be shut down in 2023.

Hinkley Point C, however, will renew growth in the British nuclear sector while adding much-needed jobs to the British economy.

The New York Times notes the reactor will cost £14 billion ($21 billion) — consisting of two new nuclear cores. These cores may be designed by EDF’s French business partner Areva –- a leading designer in nuclear plants.

Areva is behind the design of EPRs, or European pressurized water reactors. These reactors will produce 1.6 gigawatts of power in each core, which is one third more than Britain’s power plants.

As exciting as the reactors may sound, the cores have only been tested in France and Finland, and the new cores have been laden with higher expenses and unstable results.

EDF already manages a number of power plants throughout Britain, but this project has fallen four years behind schedule due to EDF’s efforts in getting the British government to guarantee prices. EDF is hoping for a set price of “£100 per megawatt-hour — about double the current rate for electricity in Britain,” according to the New York Times.

There are legitimate concerns that the EDF price bar would be passed onto the consumers in the form of higher energy bills. The French company is looking for a minimum 10 percent rate of return, but the British government is striving for 8 percent.

EDF is also hoping to keep investors satisfied on a project that may last over a decade.

From The Independent:

“Under electricity market reforms, low-carbon power such as nuclear reactors and offshore wind farms will have long-term contracts with a guaranteed price for their electricity, to give investors certainty to invest in projects with high capital costs.”

A decision regarding price contracts is expected to be reached by the end of the month, but the green-light of Hinkley C is the most important part of the deal, and it will be a monumental shift in British energy composition.

Nuclear ReactorsBritish officials are serious about bringing investors on board by securing long-term contracts. A renewed interest in nuclear is part of the government’s effort to cut CO2 emissions in half by the 2020s, the New York Times reports. Nuclear power would contribute zero carbon emissions while bringing more jobs back to the construction industry.


BBC News highlighted the many workers that are expected to return to school in pursuit of Hinkley construction jobs. Hinkley Point C will foster job growth that will last over a decade – allowing people to not only enter a growing job market, but to also have a long-term and stable career.

It is a long-awaited avenue that the unemployed have been looking for, and potential workers will have plenty of time to get trained in construction.

The Hinkley project could not come at a better time for Britain, as the nation continues to struggle from recession. More nuclear plants are expected, which would mean nuclear and construction jobs that could last for much of the century.

An optimistic number of 25,000 construction jobs has been projected by EDF, with an additional 900 jobs in nuclear operations, according to Reuters. The Hinkley deal will add value to the British economy in the near future, but there could be hidden some hidden bumps along the way.


Additional jobs and a new energy source are good, but there are problems associated with the Hinkley C deal.

For one thing, the deal was reached without plans of waste disposal, which, according to The Guardian, could be a violation of British law and may have vast consequences for the environment and human health if an impromptu and short-sighted waste-disposal plan is executed.

BBC also reports the opposition to nuclear energy. Protest group Stop Hinkley views nuclear energy as dangerous, and members believe more investment should be geared towards the green energy sector.

There are also critics who contend that cheaper sources of energy are available instead of a decades-long nuclear campaign.

The addition of Hinkley C will not spark mass protest, but more nuclear plants could spark a not-in-my-backyard mentality that has swept the United States and Europe. Reuters alluded to the Fukishima incident in Japan, which caused nations like Switzerland and Germany to scale back their nuclear grids.

Britain is also behind in its nuclear aspirations. According to the New York Times, the British government hoped to get a total of five nuclear plants in full operation by 2025. The impending close of Hinkley B only reveals that British leaders are behind in modernizing their nuclear sector.

The closing of an old but cheaper plant, and the addition of a new and expensive one, will ultimately cost the British government more money in next decade.

There is also the cost factor among the populace.

Recipients of nuclear power will undoubtedly be unhappy with the inevitable price hikes that are sure to come once Hinkley is online. Since the British government does not subsidize nuclear plants, the only way to meet EDF’s price request is to raise energy bills.

There is also the political fallout in the government currying favor with a foreign company, and the New York Times rightly pointed out how such a deal could be perceived among British voters.

If British leaders concede to the EDF’s price demands, with full knowledge that the public would cover the extra cost, some politicians would have some explaining to do in coming elections.

With that being said, the British government is looking at different energy sources in hopes of sustainable growth. At a time of unsettling economic footing, it is in the British government’s best interest to look at every possible option to provide energy sources to the public and create jobs that people desperately need.

British leaders are investing in nuclear energy at a time when the U.S. and Europe are making headway in the renewable energy market, but many nations can look to Britain as a model in deciding if nuclear energy is a stable energy source of the future or an outdated mode of energy supply.

Britain’s nuclear plans have risks, but the addition of steady jobs and an updated energy grid is something that not even critics can oppose.


If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

Angel Publishing Investor Club Discord - Chat Now

Brian Hicks Premium


Hydrogen Fuel Cells: The Downfall of Tesla?

Lithium has been the front-runner in the battery technology market for years, but that is all coming to an end. Elon Musk is against them, but Jeff Bezos is investing heavily in them. Hydrogen Fuel Cells will turn the battery market upside down and we've discovered a tiny company that is going to make it happen...

Sign up to receive your free report. After signing up, you'll begin receiving the Energy and Capital e-letter daily.