Ofgem approves Hinkley C power grid upgrade

30 July 2018 (Last Updated July 30th, 2018 12:10)

The National Grid has received approval from British energy regulator Ofgem to build a power grid upgrade connecting the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK.

Ofgem approves Hinkley C power grid upgrade
Hinkley Points A and B Credit: Richard Baker

The National Grid has received approval from British energy regulator Ofgem to build a power grid upgrade connecting EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK.

Construction of the upgrade, called the Hinkley-Seabank (HSB) project, will cost around £650m and is intended to not only enable the safe connection of the Hinkley Point C station, but also provide additional power capacity and ease transmission restraints in the South West of the UK.

Ofgem’s proposals are due to be formalised either later this year or early next year, though National Grid have said it would review the details beforehand, saying “Ofgem’s decision does not affect our commitment to delivering HSB to time and to quality as per our license obligations”.

Under the terms of Ofgem’s approval, it will be able to limit the amount of revenue National Grid can earn from the upgrade.

The regulator’s executive director for systems and networks Jonathan Brearley said the revenue limit is part of the company’s “ongoing programme to ensure that consumers get reliable and secure power supplies at a fair price…evolving regulation to deliver the upgrades to our power network while ensuring the impact on bills is kept as low as possible.”

The energy regulator hopes to save customers more than £5bn under the new scheme, enforcing stricter price controls for energy producers.

EDF’s Hinkley C project will be Britain’s first new nuclear power plant since 1995. Built at a cost of £20bn and intended to begin energy generation in 2025, it will be the most expensive power station in the world.

The company is currently building a similar facility in Flamanville, Normandy, though this project has faced significant delays due to construction problems and has caused some speculation over whether the Hinkley project will be completed on time.

Hinkley C is expected to provide low-carbon power for around six million homes and create over 25,000 new jobs, though its high cost has invited widespread criticism.

Paul Dorfman from the UCL Energy Institute told The Guardian: “It’s three times over cost and three times over time where it’s been built in Finland and France. This is a failed and failing reactor.”