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Sun June 20 2021

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Hinkley boss denies his departure reveals doubts

10 Mar 16 The former project director the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station construction project has denied press reports that he left the project because of doubts about the project.

Chris Bakken
Chris Bakken

It was revealed last week that EDF Energy project director Chris Bakken was leaving the company and the £18bn project. EDF Energy has spent years preparing to start construction and months unable to make a final investment decision.

There also remains a degree of uncertainty about the European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology. EPR projects in France, Finland and China have all suffered significant delays and technical problems.

Mr Bakken's departure was seen as a sign of frustration or doubt about the project.

However, in a letter to The Times newspaper, Mr Bakken says that his decision to leave was purely for family reasons and the project remains economically viable. (He says nothing about its technical viability.)

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In his letter to the editor, he writes: “Your leader suggests that I left EDF Energy because it I did not appear to have full faith in the Hinkley Point C project. Far from it. The reason for my departure was that I was born and brought up in the US and decided to move back to the US so that my wife and I could return to our family.

“The economics of the project have stood up to repeated scrutiny. EDF and its Chinese partner are shouldering the construction risks and consumers will not pay a penny until the plant generates its reliable low carbon electricity. Nor is it fair to compare the strike price with today’s depressed wholesale electricity prices. Hinkley will be competitive with all other forms of future electricity generation and its power will be available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

“Abandoning this would not only deny the UK 7% of potential power supply at a time when it will be most needed but also jeopardises jobs for the 25,000 people who will work on its construction.”

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