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EU antitrust authorities to approve UK nuclear plant project

22 September 2014

A European Commission spokesperson has confirmed EU state aid regulators will not oppose French utility EDF's plan to build a nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in the UK. "Vice President Almunia will propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision in this case," EC spokesman Antoine Colombani said on September 22.

Artists impression of Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF
Artists impression of Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF

EC competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia has been responsible foran investigation into the £16bn project which started in December 2013. EU regulators were initially worried that the project's guaranteed price, more than twice the current market rate, might distort competition.

After weeks of negotiations between London and Brussels, a provisional deal was agreed to secure approval for billions of pounds of public funding for the plant, the country’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation.

During the negotiations Brussels pushed to tighten provisions to claw back excess profits, and potentially amend the “strike price” of the contract for difference, or CFD, which guarantees a minimum revenue for low carbon generators.

This is a boost for the project, which will provide 7% of the UK’s electricity when built. It now requires approval from the outgoing college of EU commissioners.

A positive final EU decision is critical to the effort to find outside investors for the Hinkley project. Two big state-owned Chinese nuclear companies, CGN and CNNC, have agreed in principle to help fund the plant.

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