EDF man ‘quits’ over UK nuclear plant

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C plant Image copyright PA
Image caption The new nuclear plant will be built next to two existing facilities at Hinkley Point in Somerset

The finance director at French energy giant EDF has quit over the firm's plan to build the UK's first new nuclear power plant in decades, reports say.

Thomas Piquemal stepped down because he feared the project could jeopardise EDF's financial position, unnamed sources told news agencies.

EDF declined to comment on the reports.

Last month, the director of the £18bn Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, Chris Bakken, said he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.

The project has been plagued by delays, but publicly the firm has insisted a decision to move forward is imminent.

In October last year, EDF agreed a deal under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would pay a third of the cost of the £18bn project in exchange for a 33.5% stake.

But according to French financial press reports, EDF is struggling to find the cash for its remaining 66.5% stake and is seeking help from the French government, which owns 84.5% of EDF.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hinkley is expected to provide 7% of the UK's electricity once it is operational

The company is also facing opposition from French union officials, who have suggested that investment in Hinkley Point C should be delayed until 2019.

The CFE-CGC Energy union said there were problems with a similar reactor design in France that needed to be solved.

The new Hinkley plant – to be built next to two existing facilities – is due to start generating in 2025, and is expected to provide 7% of the UK's electricity once it is operational.

But the project was originally due to open in 2017, and it has come under fire for both its cost and delays to the timetable for building.

The government has also been criticised for guaranteeing a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity – more than twice the current cost – for the electricity Hinkley produces.