It could be described as the precedent for a new age of electricity “robber barons” even though the project is likely never to be completed. The European Commission announced that it has approved United Kingdom public subsidies to support the French government utility EDF to construct two European Pressurized Reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England. The initial price tag is now estimated to be £24 billion ($30.6 billion) already up from last year’s estimate of £16 billion. True to atomic power form the latest estimate only marks the figure from which the skyrocketing cost will be launched and likely to become the most expensive nuclear power plant ever built if the project is not abandoned first.
The anti-nuclear/pro-renewables Austrian government immediately countered that it will sue in the European Court of Justice to reverse the decision. Likewise, Germany's government is also considering taking legal action.
International energy analysts are citing the new figures to be enough to finance the deploymet of 7 Gigawatts of new offshore wind farms as compared to the 3.3 Gigawatts that France is proposing to build at Hinkley.
The European Commission deal awards EDF with a 35-year power contract for Hinkley Point C electricity as compared to the 15-year contracts that renewable energy projects now receive. The deal further establishes a guaranteed minimum revenue or “strike price” to EDF from indentured UK ratepayers of £92.50 per megawatt hour in what amounts to approximately twice the current wholesale price. By the end of the 35-year contract in 2058 there is no reliable measure of how much nuclear power will cost.
During a subsequent paralimentary debate in Germany following the decision, Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks declared that the European Commission's decision was "utterly wrong." She observed that nuclear power is clearly not competitive compared to renewable energy "or else, prices wouldn't need fixing for 30 years."