EDF express relief over green light for Hinkley Point nuclear project

Anmar Frangoul | Special to CNBC.com
British nuclear decision breaking news for industry: CEO

Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman and CEO of European utility EDF, has expressed relief over the U.K. government's decision to give the Hinkley Point C nuclear project the green light.

"We are relieved because it's been many, many years with a lot of work for many people in the U.K., also in France, and in China," Levy told CNBC at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul.

"This is a partnership for Hinkley Point, between the United Kingdom and China and France, so (we are) relieved that we have been able to get this decision behind us," he added.

"We have a little more than nine years to deliver the first unit, so that's a very exciting challenge."

The joint project has proved controversial: Critics have raised concerns over the fixed price of £92.50 ($113.40) per megawatt hour of electricity for 35 years once the plant begins generating 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.

"The new British government, with Mrs (U.K. Prime Minister Theresa) May, they have made their decision, and what they have publicised, there is a very interesting document called Value for Money," Levy said.

Hinkley an exciting challenge: EDF CEO

The document, Levy went on to state, explained in "great many details" why the project was a valuable one for the British consumer.

"To me, that is the number one rationale for… (the) project, it is most important to all of us that the project gives value for money for the British consumers," he said.

Addressing concerns regarding security, Levy said he had, "No doubt that the experts in the security of information systems have all the tools they need to make sure that the power systems, whether it is in the U.K., whether it is in France… will work, and that there is no risk to national security."

"There are expert agencies in these fields and I have no doubt that these people know their job," he added.

Elsewhere in Istanbul, Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Oil & Gas, told CNBC that a mixture of energy sources would be important going forward.

"An energy mix is the future: you're going to have oil, gas, you're going to continue to have coal, you're going to have renewables that continue to increase," he said.

"And I think you're seeing our customers playing that arena: oil and gas is here to stay for the next multiple years and decades, and that's why we're continuing to invest in it," he added. "As a company, we actually play across the whole energy mix, and that's one of the strengths of GE."