A panel of British engineers have warned that further delays to constructing the UK’s first nuclear power plant since the 1990s could hold up other atomic projects and increase dependence on potentially insecure fuel imports.

The panel pinpoint delays to EDF’s nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point as being crucial to the country’s energy security.

Hinkley Point

  EDF (Euronext: EDF) had originally intended to open the plant by 2018, but following Fukushima, the company said approval for its reactor design had been held up by regulators and the start date had been postponed.

  Reuters reports that when asked whether any delay would hit Britain’s energy security – its ability to rely on secure, close-at-hand energy supplies – one member of the panel, John Earp, replied: “Yes … If there is a significant slip (to EDF Energy’s start-up date) then the alternative is probably a move toward gas.”

A significant delay at Hinkley could also affect other nuclear projects, threatening government plans to have more new nuclear plants up and running by 2025, the panel added.

Companies planning to build new nuclear plants in Britain are hoping to generate about 16 GW of new capacity by 2025, a goal the government says will help the country meet its emission reduction targets and cut its reliance on fluctuating gas prices.

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