|Fig. 1: Hinkley Point nuclear reactors and coastline. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).|
The stretch of land on the coast of the British Channel called Hinkley Point serves as a scenic nature reserve and a popular recreation center. Hinkley Point C is a project to construct a nuclear power station in this area in Somerset, Southwest England.  Two EPR reactors are set to be built beside Hinkley Point A and B, two existing facilities. While Hinkley Point B is operational, the nuclear reactors at Point A were decommissioned in 2000. EDF Energy, which is largely owned by the French state, is leading the project, and Areva, a majority state-owned French nuclear firm, is supplying Hinkley Point C's nuclear reactor technology. China General Nuclear (CGN) holds a one-third stake in the project. In September 2016, the UK government, EDF, and CGN signed contracts to finalize the development process of Hinkley Point C, and permit its construction to begin.
The project in total will cost an estimated 18 billion pounds.  In the United Kingdom, energy is produced, sold to suppliers at a wholesale price, which households then obtain by paying energy bills. The UK government has guaranteed EDF a fixed price, or strike price, of 92.50 pounds per megawatt hour for the energy they produce for 35 years. However, the wholesale price of energy is declining, and consequently this strike price has effectively increased the amount that consumers will pay towards their energy bills. Thus, Point C will provide an economic stimulus to the UK, especially Somerset and the South West region of England.
Point C will generate around 7% of the UK's electricity, as most other nuclear energy sites are closing down. The two EPR reactors on site will provide reliable low-carbon electricity to about six million homes in the UK. Hinkley Point C will create about 25,000 new job opportunities, and about 5,600 people will be employed on the construction site during its peak.  Its production of low-carbon energy will help the UK meet their energy goals.
Critics of Hinkley Point C fear the construction time to be much longer, and budget much higher, than originally estimated. Additionally, the involvement of the French and Chinese state in the development and funding of the nuclear plant raises concerns. Some question the military and security issues of allowing foreign countries to participate in the British nuclear industry. Finally, consumers will pay more for their energy bills. 
Alternatively, some suggest that the UK government promote the construction of renewable power sources, such as wind and solar, instead of resorting to an expensive nuclear energy project. Also, some argue that the UK government should build the nuclear power stations itself, rather than rely on funds from France and China.
© Madie Chou. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
 D. Wilczynski, "Hinkley Point Power," Physics 241, Stanford University, Fall 2012.
 J. Moylan, "Hinkley Point: What Is It and Why Is It Important?" BBC News, 15 Sep 16.
 B. Chu, "Why Is the Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant So Controversial?," The Independent, 28 Jul 16.