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Estimated cost of Hinkley Point C nuclear plant rises to £37bn [Corrected 13/7/16]

12 July 2016

The total lifetime cost of the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant could be as high as £37bn, according to an assessment published by the UK government. The figure, reported in the Guardian, was contained in an IPA (Infrastructure and Projects Authority) report and compares with a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimate 12 months ago of £14bn.

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C - EDF Energy
Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C - EDF Energy

DECC officials confirmed the £37bn figure, but said it was provisional, set in September 2015, when wholesale power prices were low, and would not affect bill payers.

In late June state-controlled French utility EDF, which will build and operate the plant, said it was ready to take a final investment decision on building the two planned nuclear reactors at Hinkley despite Britain's referendum vote to quit the European Union. The latest indication is that this decision will be taken in September.

This comes amid increasing speculation about the future of the controversial project in Somerset, whose existence has been affected by the UK's post-Brexit financial situation. Hinkley has been a flagship energy project for the British government and in particular for the chancellor, George Osborne, who lobbied hard and successfully for China to take a stake in the scheme.

It remains to be seen whether the proposed nuclear plant, potentially the most expensive in the world, will receive the same levels of support from the new UK Government of Theresa May, who took over as prime minister on July 13.

Correction: A reader has contacted us to point out that the £37bn total lifetime cost estimate of the Hinkley Point C project in the Infrastructure and Projects Authority report is different from the £14bn estimated construction cost and the two figures cannot be compared, as was done in the original article on which this report was based.

The lifetime cost includes operational and decommissioning costs, while the construction cost does not. In the original article, both DECC and EDF Energy made this point, and we should have made this clear in our own report - Alan Franck, Editor, Hazardex.

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