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2 May 2023

French appeals court clears government buyout of EDF

An appeals court in France has rejected a complaint against the terms of the country’s government buyout of power giant EDF, Reuters reports. 

Rejection of the complaint, filed by an association for the defence of minority shareholders, clears the way for a full nationalisation of the energy company. The court of appeals “rejected all of the plaintiffs’ demands”, according to a document seen by Reuters

The head of the association declined to comment, saying the group needed time to understand possible legal options following the decision. Minority shareholders argued that the offered buyout price of $12.26 (€12) per share was too low. 

In July last year, the French government announced its plans to take full control of EDF, after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled plans to nationalise the debt-laden company in the same month. The finance ministry said in a statement at the time that it had offered $12.26 (€12) per share, or $9.85bn (€9.7bn) total, to buy out the remaining 16% minority stake. 

Currently, the government owns 95.82% of the company’s share capital and at least 96.53% of voting rights. It has pledged to reopen the tender offer for 10 additional trading days, after which it will initiate squeeze-out proceedings. 

EDF’s debt troubles continued into the end of last fiscal year, with the company posting a record net loss of $13.5bn (€12.7bn) for 2022, after repairs to its nuclear fleet choked power output. The company also posted a net financial debt of $68.6bn (€64.5bn), up 50% from 2021.

28 April 2023

Hinkley Point C announces 30,000 training places

Nuclear energy site Hinkley Point C, which is still under construction, has announced that it is now offering 30,000 new training places between now and its completion date, the BBC reports. 

A spokesperson for the site, which lays in Somerset, UK, said that the training opportunities would give local residents the chance to join the project as it hits “peak construction”. 

Approximately $29.9m (£24m) of investment will be paid to support the courses by the site’s majority owner, French state-owned energy company EDF. The training on offer will include electronics, welding, and pipe installation. Apprentices, local business staff and current employees at the site are among those eligible for the courses. 

Andrew Cockroft, a senior manager at the site, said: “[The courses] are in a huge, diverse range of careers and skill sets – welders, electrical technicians, mechanical engineers.” Hinkley Point C has already trained 1,130 apprentices so far. 

UK energy security and net zero secretary Grant Shapps said that the training programmes being funded by the French company are a good thing. He told the BBC: “I think we should all be rather pleased it is not the British taxpayer; it is France and EDF who are paying. “I am often asked how much this is going to cost us, and I say we are not having to pay.” 

In February, estimated costs for the Hinkley Point C rose again to almost $40bn (£33bn), up from previous estimates of $31bn-$33bn (£26bn-£27bn) set out in May 2022. China’s General Nuclear Power Group hold a 33% stake in the project.

28 April 2023

Seabed survey begins for Australian offshore wind farm

The investigation to test seabed conditions for the proposed Star of the South offshore wind project off the Gippsland coast in the state of Victoria, Australia, has commenced. 

A specialist vessel and crew will collect soil and rock samples from 70m beneath the seafloor during May 2023. The team will also gather samples from 22 locations within the project’s 2019 exploration licence area. 

The findings from the investigation will help to develop a design for the proposed offshore wind energy farm that will be ideal for local seabed conditions. 

Victoria’s minister for energy and resources Lily D’Ambrosio stated: “This will be the first marine geotechnical campaign in Australia for offshore wind energy, which is a huge achievement for Victoria as it makes the transition from coal to renewables.” 

The investigation has been backed with an $12.8m (A$19.5m) investment by Victoria’s government. This relates to pre-construction work for the wind project granted under the energy innovation fund. 

Star of the South will be Australia’s first offshore wind farm. Victoria will also lead the nation with its offshore wind energy goals of at least 2GW of capacity by 2032, 4GW by 2035 and 9GW by 2040. The state looks to lead the way to the country’s net-zero goals, with its own zero emissions target set for 2045. 

Member for the Eastern Victoria legislative council Tom McIntosh stated: “Offshore wind energy will play a critical role in helping Victoria to achieve its target of net-zero emissions by 2045, and Gippsland will be at the centre of this transformation.”