RWE’s chief says Hinkley point C delays raise “big questions” about nuclear power

The chief executive of Britain’s largest power producer has warned that the cost overruns at Hinkley Point C and delays raise “big questions” regarding investment in new nuclear projects.

Markus Krebber is the chief executive officer of RWE. He has expressed doubts as to whether investors will and should support new nuclear plants in order to achieve net zero.

According to him, he told the Australian Financial Review, “I’d have a question mark on whether building new ones really is a good idea. If you look at cost overruns, delays and storage costs, I believe that a renewables based energy system is already cheaper in most regions today than new nuclear.”

After a series setbacks , the flagship Hinkley Point C nucleo-power station of Britain is still under construction.

The Somerset-based project was approved by the Government in 2016, and initially scheduled to open in 2025 at a cost of £18bn.

The 3.2 gigawatt plant is expected to be completed in 2027, and will cost between £25bn and £26bn. This would translate to about £32bn today, given the inflation rate.

EDF (France), which owns Britain’s aging nuclear power fleet, is building the project. It is designed to produce enough electricity to power 6 million homes.

Mr Krebber cited the delays in the project as the reason it was difficult to find “anyone in the Western World” who would invest in building large nuclear plants, without government support.

He said: “You’ve seen the delays and cost overruns that have occurred in the US, Finland, the UK, and France.”

Britain’s energy is secure due to the instabilities in the global oil and gas market since the war in Ukraine. Nuclear power is a reliable and cost-effective source of electricity that has protected France from the worst of rising oil and gas prices.

Ministers want nuclear power to provide 25pc by 2050 of the UK’s electricity, ending its dependence on coal and natural gas.

Hinkley Point C, the largest nuclear project in recent decades, is currently under construction.

The government has found it difficult to convince pension funds and asset management to make investments in the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk.

After buying a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company in the past year, due to national security concerns, it has invested almost £1bn and shares ownership with EDF.

RWE, formerly Germany’s leading nuclear power producer, was forced to stop production in order to comply with the long-term phase-out of nuclear energy. It closed its last nuclear plant in April.

The Hessen-based firm, which is the second largest offshore wind generator in the world, , supplies around 15pc (or ) of the UK’s electricity demand .