The EU General Court has rejected a challenge by Austria and Luxembourg to a European Commission decision to allow UK state subsidies for the construction and operation of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
The court accepted that the state aid was justified under the Euratom Treaty. Austria and Luxembourg have the right to appeal the ruling.
Greenpeace EU lawyer Andrea Carta said: “The court has missed a golden opportunity to acknowledge that nuclear belongs to the past and should not be brought back with taxpayers’ money. If the 1957 Euratom Treaty is the legal basis to squander public resources on nuclear plants, then it must be changed to reflect today’s reality: renewables are cheaper, safer and can replace nuclear.”
The ruling is at odds with EU measures agreed last month to encourage citizens and communities to generate, consume and sell their own renewable power.
The UK government has guaranteed a rate of £92.50 (€104.6) per megawatt hour (MWh) – the so-called ‘strike price’ – for electricity produced at Hinkley Point C. The strike price is over twice as high as current UK wholesale electricity prices. Electricity bill-payers will pay the difference between the wholesale electricity price and the £92.50 “strike price”, if the wholesale electricity price falls below the guaranteed strike price. This will cost UK consumers around £30 billion (€33.9 billion) over the 35-year contract, according to the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
The state aid scheme will benefit NNGB, the company that is building and will operate Hinkley Point C, which is owned by French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Group.
According to a recent study, cooperative-owned projects bring eight times more revenue into the local economy than a project by a major power company. As well, a 2016 report by CE Delft showed that, with the right support, half of all EU citizens could produce their own electricity from renewables by 2050, meeting nearly half of the EU’s electricity demand.
Andrea Carta, Lawyer, Greenpeace EU: +32 2 2741920, email@example.com
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 2 274 1911, firstname.lastname@example.org
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