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Oil tycoon claims new nuclear power station will be 'too expensive'
IT will be too expensive.
That is the verdict of Hampshire-based oil tycoon Jim Ratcliffe after blasting forecasted energy prices set at one of Britain’s new generation of nuclear power stations.
The Government has ruled developers of the £16 billion Hinkley C generator in Somerset can charge a minimum of £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh) for 35 years.
The giant plant, set to open in 2023, is being built by French energy giant EDF Energy backed by Chinese investors as part of a major scheme to replace Britain’s aging nuclear power plants.
But Mr Ratcliffe, whose company own the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, says most British companies will find the price guaranteed by the Government there too expensive.
The tycoon, who has offices in Lyndhurst, is reported as saying: “Forget it. Nobody in manufacturing is going to go near £95 per Mwh.”
He pointed out that Ineos has agreed a deal for nuclear power from a station in France costing 45 euros (£37.94) per Mwh – less than half of the Hinkley costs.
He continued: “The UK probably has the most expensive energy in the world.
“It is more expensive than Germany, it is more expensive than France, it is much, much, more expensive than America.
“It is not competitive at all, on the energy front.”
But EDF chief executive officer Vincent de Ricvaz stressed the station represents a “fair” and “balanced” deal for consumers and added: “It will kick start the UK nuclear programme and help rebuild the nation’s industrial stamina.”
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change also stuck by the pricing and added: “We have always been clear that EDF will only be offered an Investment Contract for Hinkley Point C if it is fair, affordable, value for money and consistent with state aid rules.”
The Grangemouth refinery, which supplies 70 per cent of fuel used at Scotland’s filling stations, was dramatically saved from closure in October after a last-ditch deal with unions.
As previously reported, Mr Ratcliffe initially announced he was axing the site – with the loss of 800 jobs – but eventually kept it open after vital negotiations with the Unite union.
Earlier this month the firm announced it will be the first chemical plant in the country to receive shale gas from the United States.
The company has selected the location for a new ethane tank it plans to build at Grangemouth, with imports beginning as early as 2016 after a £150 million investment to an import terminal project.
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