Nuclear Energy

Hinkley Point good news for whole nuclear industry, Russian expert says

Justina Crabtree; special to
Hinkley Point good news for nuclear industry: CEO
Hinkley Point good news for nuclear industry: CEO

The U.K.'s green light to construct a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point has positive repercussions industry wide, according to one expert.

The move is "definitely very good news for the whole nuclear industry," said Kirill Komarov, first deputy CEO of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy company. Komarov was pleased that the British government was ready to support both the development of nuclear energy and its scheme to fix prices long term.

The joint project, financed by France and China, has proved controversial in some quarters. Critics have raised concerns over the fixed price of £92.50 ($121) per megawatt hour of electricity for 35 years once the plant begins functioning, as well as potential risks to the U.K.'s security, given that foreign firms will have a stake in crucial U.K. energy infrastructure.

Komarov expressed "slight concern" that the future price of electricity was higher than necessary. He said that nuclear energy is often blamed for high costs, which is bad for the industry's image.

When asked who the winners of the Hinkley Point deal were, Komarov acknowledged that this "depends how (the parties involved) structure these relations, not just in the process of financing but in the process of construction."

"China, I have no doubt, is interested not just to finance the story, but to construct significant parts of equipment on the territory of China and supply it to the United Kingdom," he said.

Hinkley Point nuclear power station
myLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Russian economic woes

Komarov acknowledged that the Russian economy was not booming, due to low oil and gas prices. But, he said that the weak ruble was a positive for export industries like nuclear power.

Komarov added that approximately 58 percent of revenue at Rosatom came from exports, and the company's net profit was recorded at $2.4 billion in 2015.

With regards to Rosatom's current operations, Komarov outlined its "serial construction of new nuclear power plants on the territory of Russia." This means that the company has new commissions each year, despite the ailing Russian economy.

When pushed on the security risks of the nuclear industry, in the light of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in just 2011, Komarov said that "so-called post-Fukushima requirements are now important and obliged for each and every vendor." He was confident that safety concerns were not an issue for the industry.

CNBC's Anmar Frangoul contributed to this report.

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