EdF’s bosses must be thanking their lucky stars that President Macron decided to take complete control of EdF back in 2022. Otherwise, its latest announcements about further delays and cost increases for its new reactors at Hinkley Point would have sent any remaining investors running for the hills.

The scale of those announcements is staggering:

  • The price tag for Hinkley Point C has now been reset at £31-34 billion (in 2015 prices), twice the original £18 billion.
  • In today’s money, that’s around £46 billion – with further delays and cost hikes (rising to at least £50 billion) all but inevitable.
  • EdF’s shortfall in completing Hinkley Point has risen substantially, and could now be as high as £25 billion on its balance sheet.
  • EdF has admitted that 2029 is now the earliest Hinkley Point will come online. Fat chance of that!

Which makes Hinkley Point C even more of a bust than EdF’s current worst reactor construction nightmare at Flamanville in France. And significantly worse than its plant at Olkiluoto in Finland, which it just managed to get over the line last year.

So, watch out for the fallout.

Hinkley Point C was meant to be coming online in 2027. All neutral commentators now reckon 2031 (EdF’s so-called ”unfavourable scenario”) is the earliest that will happen. That’s a further four-year delay before its low-carbon electrons (providing 7% of the UK’s electricity) will be available to help the UK meet its various decarbonisation targets.

Add to that the knock-on impact of this on the Government’s/Labour’s hopes for a Hinkley Point look-alike (really!) at Sizewell C. The sales pitch to investors for that has now become even trickier than it was before: “Just look at this beautiful £50 billion turkey: another one just like it could be all yours at a bargain-basement price of, say, £40 billion”.

Which leads to the following conclusions:

  1. EdF is even more screwed than it was before, deeper in debt, with further delays for rolling out its look-alike plant at Sizewell C now inevitable.
  2. The Tory Government is screwed, with no chance of Hinkley Point C (let alone Sizewell C) making any serious short-term contribution to its decarbonisation strategy.
  3. Labour is screwed – for exactly the same reasons.
  4. The UK’s Net Zero strategy by 2050 looks less and less viable. And that will soon be tested, again, in the courts.
  5. All this because of the nuclear obsessions of the UK’s entire political establishment – Labour just as much as the Tories.

Happily, there’s no need to panic: the case for the “renewables + efficiency + storage + smart grids” option just got a whole lot stronger, both economically and politically. We just need the donkeys in Whitehall to give up on their nuclear turkeys. Finally!