Dark clouds are once again hovering over the planned construction of the Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station in Britain, which has attracted much attention as the most ambitious nuclear power project in Europe. Despite the extraordinary high estimated costs of building the plant and generating power there, the project has managed to survive so far with the support of the successive governments.
From last year to this year, doubts about the costs and related technological problems have surfaced again, creating fear that the government may carry out a "reexamination" of the project anytime soon. Such concerns present a serious threat to Hitachi Ltd. and other Japanese firms that are betting their futures on nuclear power plant construction in Britain.
The root cause of the uncertainty surrounding the HPC project lies in Electricite de France (EdF), France's government-owned, largest power utility, which is building the plant. When British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a go-ahead to the project in September 2016, various tricks were used to impress the public with low construction costs, which were initially set at £18 billion (¥2.7 trillion), with some investment from China General Nuclear Power Group thrown in.