The EU’s competition watchdog will recommend approval of Britain’s plans, backed by French and Chinese energy giants, to build its first nuclear plant in a generation, an official said Monday.
“As our discussions with British authorities have ended with an agreement, the Competition Commission will recommend a positive decision” on the Hinkley Point project, said a spokesman for Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
“In principle, the decision should be made in October,” he added.
Last year, the British government signed a £16-billion ($26-billion, 18.9-billion-euro) deal with French energy giant EDF to build two reactors at Hinkley Point C in southwestern England to meet Britain’s future energy needs.
Under the accord, EDF gets a 45-50 percent stake, China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) will have a combined 30-40 percent and another French firm, Areva, 10 percent.
Shortly after the deal was announced, the European Commission launched a probe into its state-backed price guarantee system.
The project is based on an agreed electricity price over 35 years of £92.50 per megawatt hour plus inflation, which is about double the prevailing market rate in Britain.
If the market price falls below that level, the British government will make up the difference, a potentially heavy burden which critics of the project have jumped on.
At full capacity, the two new reactors will be able to produce seven percent of Britain’s electricity, enough to power five million homes.
Britain has 16 nuclear reactors which provide about 20 percent of the country’s energy needs.