Britain doesn't need new Hinkley N-plant to keep lights on: SSE CEO

Men work at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site near Bridgwater in Britain, August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain does not need EDF's EDF.PA 18-billion pound ($23 billion) Hinkley Point C nuclear plant to ensure the lights will stay on because alternative projects like new gas plants will be able to fill the gap, the CEO of energy company SSE SSE.L said.

SSE, Britain’s second-bigger energy supplier and a former investor in new nuclear plants, is planning to build new gas-fired power plants and offshore wind farms that its chief executive said can deliver the electricity needed as old plants close down.

“If Hinkley doesn’t progress, there is plenty to fill the gap,” said Alistair Phillips-Davies in an article for the Politics Home website.

The future of EDF’s two-reactor nuclear plant in southwest England was thrown into doubt last month when Prime Minister Theresa May delayed a government go-ahead for the project on security concerns regarding Chinese involvement in the project.

China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) holds a 33 percent stake in the new plant.

Phillips-Davies said the new government should focus on maintaining investor confidence in its energy policies, such as the minimum price for carbon emissions and its low-carbon power contracts.

Until 2011, SSE was a 25-percent partner in the NuGen nuclear new build consortium which plans to construct a new nuclear plant in northwest England.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Stephen Addison