A Chinese takeaway (Pt 3)
Tim Malloch
New Law Journal
29 April 2016

A Chinese takeaway (Pt 3)

In February, a family in Swansea became the first family in the UK to own a Tesla Powerwall. The home storage battery has been described as the missing link for solar energy. It allows homes to store the electricity generated by their solar panels during the day until it is needed later when demand is higher (5 February, The Guardian).

A month later, corporate chaos breaks out at EDF. The energy giant, 85% owned by the French government, is trying to build a new nuclear power station in the UK—Hinkley Point C (HPC) —but it cannot bring itself to commit to a Final Investment Decision (FID). The HPC project director, Chris Bakken, and EDF's finance director, Thomas Piquemal, have both resigned. To lose one director is unfortunate, but to lose two in such close proximity seems like carelessness.

On 10 March, Bakken wrote to The Times to rebut the suggestion that he resigned because he did not have full faith in EDF's plans to build HPC. His letter claimed that: "The economics of the [HPC] project have stood up to repeated scrutiny." The next day, EDF's CEO, Jean-Bernard Levy, wrote a letter to EDF employees to explain EDF's financial predicament. He informed them that EDF was negotiating with the French government to obtain commitments to secure its financial position and that without these commitments he would not allow EDF to proceed with HPC. The following day, the UK government confirmed its continued support for HPC, publishing a brief press release setting out five reasons why it was backing the project, the first of which was: "New nuclear is the only proven low carbon technology that can provide continuous power, irrespective of whether the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, giving hardworking families and businesses year-round energy security."

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