Tuesday 17 May 2016 2:59 pm

Hollande renews support for EDF's Hinkley Point

The French president today renewed his support for EDF's Hinkley nuclear power plant, amid questions about his government's support for the £18bn flagship project.

"I am in favour of this project going ahead," François Hollande told Europe 1 radio in a interview today.

"EDF and Areva are public companies on which we should rely. But at the same time, we must give them new support."

Read more: Thatcher's former energy secretary warns of China's secret plan for Hinkley

It comes after France's energy minister, Ségolène Royal, questioned whether France should proceed with the project.

"I am wondering if we should go ahead with the project. The sums involved are colossal," she told the Financial Times.

EDF recently pushed back Hinkley's final investment decision, which has been delayed several times, by four months to some time in September.

Earlier this month, it emerged EDF’s former chief financial officer had fought for the final investment decision on the nuclear plant to be delayed by at least three years.

“In January 2015, I proposed to negotiate a three-year delay with our client because we reasoned that it would weigh too heavily on EDF’s balance sheet,” Thomas Piquemal told a French parliament committee hearing. “Who would bet 60 to 70 per cent of his equity on a [European pressurised reactor] technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes 10 years to build.”

Read more: Are the economics of nuclear bust in the UK?

EDF shares have shed around 50 per cent in the last year, partly due to its debt surpassing the company's value at €37bn (£29bn).

The project, which will meet nearly seven per cent of the UK's electricity needs over a 60-year period, is at the heart of the government's energy plans.

Its start date has been pushed back eight years to 2025, as it's been plagued by numerous delays and setbacks.