Britain should cancel its nuclear white elephant and spend the billions on making renewables work. Ccrapping the deal would be the right decision. Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money. What’s more, as renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, “baseload” projects like Hinkley are numbered. Britain should pull out of the deal, and other countries should learn from its misadventure. In the past six years Britain’s government has reduced the projected cost of producing electricity from onshore wind in 2025 by one-third, and of solar power by nearly two-thirds (see chart). Because nobody knows how the next few decades will unfold, now is not the time to lock in a price. One of the few certainties is that Hinkley is not the sort of power station that any rich country will want for much longer. Nuclear energy has a future, but big, always-on projects like Hinkley, which would aim to satisfy 7% of Britain’s energy needs, do not fit the bill. As renewables generate a growing share of countries’ power, the demand will be for sources of energy that can cover intermittent shortfalls (for instance, when the wind stops blowing or the sun goes in).
Economist 6th Aug 2016 read more »
The biggest offshore windfarm developer in Britain has said the country can meet its future energy commitments without the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project. Henrik Poulsen, chief executive of Dong Energy, said wind turbines could be built on time and on budget, giving the UK a reliable source of power if combined with output from new biomass or gas-fired plants. Poulsen said offshore wind farms could already produce power at below €100 (£85) per MWh. Many others in the industry believe it will be down to €80 by the mid-2020s.
Guardian 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Dong Energy is ready to offer the U.K. more offshore wind power should Prime Minister Theresa May scrap construction of a nuclear plant. “We would further be able to further accelerate and expand the build out of offshore wind should there be such a need,” Dong’s Chief Executive Officer Henrik Poulsen said Thursday in a phone call with reporters. “Of course, that’s entirely leaving those decisions to the U.K. government.” “If the Brits cancel Hinkley and need more offshore wind power it’ll certainly be something we can help with,” said Poulsen in a separate phone interview Thursday. “We just want to make the point that if they want to accelerate the build-out of offshore wind energy we’re at their disposal.”
Bloomberg 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Jonathon Porritt: On Friday last week, within a few hours of Greg Clark (Secretary of State at the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) announcing that the UK Government would be reviewing the whole Hinkley Point situation, the Times came out with a thoroughly damning indictment of the Hinkley Point project. Going way beyond its usual sceptical hostility, it invited its readers to compare the already redundant, Incomprehensively costly technology of Hinkley Point with the next generation of low-carbon energy breakthroughs – including Artificial Photosynthesis. I’m trying now to think through this critical review process from Greg Clark’s point of view, from what little I know of him as a conscientious, focussed politician of the kind that we’ve seen far too little of since 2010. And I would imagine that the officials already charged with oversight of the review will be looking at three big areas: Technology – the worst possible nuclear option: the EPR; security of supply and against external threats and affordability.
Jonathon Porritt 4th Aug 2016 read more »
You probably know Chinese state-owned companies are involved in the Hinkley Point C project – they have a 33.5 per cent stake in it. But did you know that MI5 and MI6 have been warning the government about China’s involvement for months? It’s one of the reasons why Theresa May is currently reviewing the project despite it being finally rubber-stamped by EDF’s board last week. The overriding concerns? National security and links to the Chinese military and Chinese Communist Party. In fairness, experts like Professor Jeffrey Henderson, professor of international development at Bristol University, have been warning us – and the government – for months too and, as he says, those concerns are pretty obvious, even to the casual observer.
Somerset Live 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
In conversations with Motherboard, researchers and those who work on on critical infrastructure were divided over whether Chinese financing of Hinkley Point is a legitimate concern or not. “I think it presents an opportunity to either collect intelligence or worse still to have some form of virtual control,” Alan Woodward, visiting professor at the University of Surrey’s Department of Computer Science, told Motherboard in a Twitter message. This worry is echoed by Robert Lee, a former US Air Force cyber warfare operations officer and CEO of Dragos Security. He suggested that a Chinese, state-run company’s involvement in the project offers the country’s intelligence services too good an opportunity to turn down. “When we look at nuclear environments around the world, anything dealing with the field of nuclear energy tends to be a top priority in intelligence services,” Lee told Motherboard in a phone call. “If you are giving access to state-owned companies to those operations, it would almost be a disservice of Chinese intelligence operations not to take advantage of that.”
Motherboard 4th Aug 2016 read more »
How to avoid nuclear fallout and become equal partners with China.
Telegraph 4th Aug 2016 read more »
The U.K. government said it won’t have to pay compensation to Electricite de France SA if Prime Minister Theresa May decides to abandon the Hinkley Point C nuclear project because there isn’t a signed contract for what would be the nation’s first new nuclear plant in decades. EDF’s press office in Paris declined to comment. Newspaper The Times reported Monday that France was preparing to demand 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in compensation if the U.K. pulled out of the project.
Bloomberg 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Mike Grubb: The UK government is entirely right to review Hinkley Point. The fundamental economic problem is that it offers last century’s answer to this century’s energy system, and the misfit is now inescapable. I was a member of the Climate Change Committee which in 2008 recommended that the government develop capability for a new generation of nuclear stations. At that time, Hinkley’s two precursor reactors — widely hailed developments from older designs — had been initiated with promises of costs far lower than the big renewable energy options. Neither of those precursors is yet operating and in the years since our recommendation the price of Hinkley has risen by 50 per cent while the price of major renewables (including offshore wind) has almost halved. The economic balance has thus reversed. Moreover it was projected that a new nuclear fleet could have many years of operating to provide baseload electricity 24/7. But the dramatic expansion in renewables makes it implausible that the UK will need any such baseload power by the time Hinkley Point could come on stream, let alone for the subsequent 35 years of its fixed-price contract. Already by the mid-2020s, there will be periods in which renewables output can meet electricity demand, and Hinkley Point (because of its bigger subsidy) would simply displace cheaper plants — wind or solar, and indeed any subsequent nuclear. The need will be for flexible plants that can economically vary their output and hence balance the system. That could include gas, biomass, and storage among others. If EDF believes that Hinkley Point can be viable in such a role the contract could be restructured accordingly. But for a new government not to review a 35-year contract committing an estimated £30bn of subsidy, given all that has changed, would surely be a gross dereliction of duty.
FT 4th Aug 2016 read more »
The SNP has called on Theresa May to ‘re-set’ UK government energy policy to bring about greater investment in renewable technology after a leading professor suggested that the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power project was ‘last century’s answer to this century’s energy needs’. Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at University College London and former member of the UK Climate Change Committee, made the argument in a letter in the Financial Times.
Scottish Energy News 4th Aug 2016 read more »
What’s missing is a fresh discussion on what to do instead of large projects like Hinkley. This requires a challenge to the mindset that’s led the UK to paint itself into a corner. There’s long been a culture of big is better when the UK considers energy – find the next big gas field or build another big power station and the problem is sorted. Locally produced solar and wind energy is now more common. We have all seen how prices for panels and turbines have tumbled with forecasts that costs for solar and onshore wind will fall a further 41% and 60% respectively by 2040. That’s great news but the space for such distributed supplies will become an issue at some point. The big is better culture goes hand-in-hand with a focus on the supply side. Addressing Britain’s energy shortages traditionally meant finding new gas fields or building more power plants, but we’re now seeing a shift in investment to the consumption side with more focus on efficient cars, buildings or industrial processes. Across the world, 32% of energy sector investment in 2015 went on efficiency measures that reduce demand – up from just 17% the previous year.
Scottish Energy News 5th Aug 2016 read more »
Molly Scott-Cato: If a week is a long time in politics, let’s hope several weeks is enough time for an energy revolution. For a country that likes to pride itself on its industrial innovation, the UK has fallen years if not decades behind developments in energy strategy. During interviews I was repeatedly asked about the question of baseload and told that renewables cannot provide this. Readers of BusinessGreen are probably well aware that this tedious refrain is used by those who would hold back the rapid deployment of renewable energy systems and demonstrates a failure to understand how energy policy is developing. National grid boss, Steve Holliday, said last year that the concept of baseload is outdated.
Business Green 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Nuclear engineering and climate change experts from Imperial College London have outlined the benefits of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in Somerset, England. They have joined the public debate on EDF Energy’s project, after new British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet announced last week that it wants to review the deal and decide in early autumn whether to commit its support.
World Nuclear News 4th Aug 2016 read more »