Friday's announcement that French state owned utility Electricite de France (EDF) had pulled out of a takeover bid for British Energy has left Gordon Brown's nuclear aspirations in disarray.
It was widely expected that, following months of negotiation, a deal would have been struck and a statement read to the sound of popping corks, but instead a rather sombre delivery was given to a stunned room.
So where does it leave us? Well, firstly, if the deal had gone ahead, it could have dealt a hammer blow to the renewable energy sector in the UK and any chance of us meeting our legally binding targets under the EU Renewables Obligation. Why? Well, even EDF admit that renewable energy and nuclear power cannot work together. They've even said that if there is significant growth in the renewables sector, the economic case for nuclear falls apart.
And considering that we were about to hand over a large chunk of our UK energy sector to the French company, it would have meant that any decisions or incentives on closing our energy gap or investing in renewables would have been made in Paris, rather than Westminster.
The news brought an immediate and forlorn defence from nuclear stalwart, John Hutton. The government remained determined to press ahead with delivering a new nuclear programme, he said, before trotting out the tired old line that if they didn't, the lights would go out.
And let's not forget that the government's sham consultation on nuclear power is under investigation by the official market research trade body. A ruling against the government's pollsters on this could throw their radioactive plans into even further chaos.
However, if the government really is serious about keeping the lights on, they shouldn't be turning to nuclear. Last year both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown made high-level commitments which led to a proposed target for the UK to generate about 15 percent of our total energy (heat, transport and electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. To meet the target it is widely accepted that at least 35 percent of Britain's electricity will need to come from renewables by 2020.
A new report released on Friday by internationally renowned, independent energy specialists Pöyry finds that, if the UK government is able to achieve its commitments to meet EU renewable energy targets and its own ambitious action plan to reduce demand through energy efficiency, then major new power stations would not be needed to ensure that Britain can meet its electricity requirements up to at least 2020. The report also concludes that a strong drive for energy efficiency and renewable energy can reduce emissions by 37 percent and assist energy security.
So for Brown and Hutton's nuclear Dog and Pony Show to get back on the road requires some serious rethinking. It seems uncertain whether any new deal between EDF and BE can be struck. If that option is dead in the water then inevitably the whole process would be significantly delayed. As the delays draw out then the French will soon be wondering about just how attractive a proposition the UK market really is.
Delay also means that any contribution from new nuclear reactors, however modest, will be even less relevant to energy security and meeting our CO2 targets in the coming decades. If the BE deal is off the table permanently, the already complicated and laborious process of finding and approving sites becomes even more complex. It may have to be dealt with site by site. Would-be investors should be very nervous.
The big question is 'what next?' Hutton says the government will struggle on regardless, but to those less ideologically determined to stick with the failing nuclear project there seems very little reason to try.
The evidence is pretty clear: If the government wants to tackle climate change and energy security while creating thousands of green-collar jobs, they should give nuclear the elbow and concentrate on maximising the UK's phenomenal renewable energy potential.