The executive who had been in charge of French energy giant EDF’s £18bn construction of Hinkley Point C has left the company for another role in the US.
Christopher Bakken had been EDF’s project director for Hinkley, leading on its design, licensing, procurement, construction and commissioning. He’s left to become executive vice president and chief nuclear officer for US-based Entergy Corporation from April 6th
"[He] has decided to return to the USA, his home country, to pursue new professional opportunities while allowing him to spend more time with his family,"EDF said in a statement.
One expert told City A.M. that Bakken's departure was yet another indicator of the fiasco that Hinkley Point C has collapsed into.
"A brief review of this week's and last week's press … indicates the fiasco that Hinkley Point C has become," Dr Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at UCL's Energy Institute, told City A.M.
It comes in the wake of a delayed board meeting last week under growing pressure from unions and investors over costs. The company has a €37bn debt pile, and its shares have nearly halved in the last year.
EDF is gearing up to take its widely anticipated final investment decision (FID), giving the project a final go-ahead. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF, recently said he was "absolutely confident" that the company would reach an FID soon.
Hinkley's completion date has already been pushed back twice, with the project now expected to start generating in 2025.
EDF has sought help from Chinese investors to fund what is Britain's first new nuclear power plant in two decades.
China General Nuclear's involvement was agreed during Chinese president XI Jinping's visit to the UK in October and was touted as a crucial outcome of the trip. China signed a string of deals to help the UK upgrade its ageing energy infrastructure.
Britain needs to replace about 20 per cent of its nuclear and coal power plants during the next 10 years, and Hinkley Point will help it achieve this.