The head of the EDF has called on the UK Government to give the go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in Somerset.
The plea from Vincent de Rivaz comes following the unexpected delay last month as new Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review of the £18 billion project.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr de Rivaz said some critics “risk losing sight of the bigger picture by overlooking the positive impact and importance of this investment for Britain”.
He insists Hinkley Point C, which is expected to provide 7% of the UK’s power needs, is competitive with all other future energy options, “even including fossil fuels like gas when the cost of carbon is taken into account”.
He believes costs are expected to fall for future projects once the new build nuclear industry is restarted.
Mr de Rivaz said: “We need to replace our ageing fossil fuel plants with new low carbon electricity. It’s a more complex future with interconnectors, batteries, gas, small and large nuclear, renewables, central and decentralised generation. The challenge is to get the right mix. There is no single technology which offers a panacea for our future needs. We need them all, including new nuclear.”
He added Hinkley will have a “lasting impact on our industrial capacity and will create thousands of jobs and hundreds of apprentices”.
He went on: “Billions of pounds will be invested into the economy of the south west of England. Across Britain, dozens of companies and our own workforce are ready to deliver this project. Their motivation remains high and they are looking forward to getting on with the job.”
But the EDF chief said: “We know and trust our Chinese partners.”
He added the control systems at Hinkley Point C will be isolated from IT systems and the internet to protect it from hackers.
According to a think tank, the UK can meet its energy and climate change targets without Hinkley and there are alternatives that are “cheaper, quicker and simpler”.