It is essential that we move to a low-carbon future no matter what the cost. Without it, there won’t be a world for our children, much less our grandchildren. The malign effects of climate change are beginning to be felt, and they are only going to get worse. Because of this I was, at one point, of the school that held nuclear power to be worth the risks it poses if it resulted in less greenhouse gases pouring into our clogged and polluted atmosphere. But nuclear power may be unnecessary, as the above results suggest. So I’m increasingly of the view that I was wrong. Sometimes it’s necessary to say that. Too often, when the phrase “I was wrong” is uttered it is jumped upon as a sign of weakness. It should not be so. Which brings us back to Hinkley. One of the first decisions made by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister was to put the project on hold while an assessment was conducted. I was critical at the time, but maybe she had a point. The project, after all, had been sharply criticised by none other than the National Audit Office. It had also resulted in the resignation of directors from the board of EDF Energy, the French state-backed power giant that is playing a leading role in the development. In the end, the Prime Minister bowed to the pressure being exerted by the project’s supporters and gave it the green light. Reversing that decision will not prove so easy now as it would have been then. It will inevitably be messy and probably expensive in financial terms too, at least in the short term. But in the longer term? The alternatives to Hinkley, the clean, renewable alternatives, threaten to make it look like an ugly white elephant, and a burden that domestic energy consumers will feel for years, before we even consider the risks and the waste that it will produce. Doing something to address that will require someone with rather more clout than I have to utter those three little words. So, Ms May, give it a try. Stand in front of the mirror and say “I was wrong”. It isn’t so hard and at least that way the nation will have something to thank you for when you’re gone
Independent 11th Sept 2017 read more »
Hinkley Point C nuclear power station was conceived in the days when offshore wind cost £150 per megawatt hour and a few misguided souls, some of them government ministers, thought a barrel of oil was heading towards $200. Successive governments swallowed the line that Hinkley represented a plausible answer to the UK’s threefold energy conundrum – keeping the lights on, reducing carbon emissions and producing the juice at affordable prices for consumers and business. Hinkley still scores on reliability and low carbon (if one ignores the effect of spoiling the Somerset countryside with so much concrete), but the extent to which its costs are obscene is now plainer than ever. In Monday’s capacity auction, two big offshore wind farms came in at £57.50 per megawatt hour and a third at £74.75. These “strike prices” – a guaranteed price for the electricity generated – are expressed in 2012 figures, as is Hinkley’s £92.50 so the comparison is fair. As for the argument that we must pay up for reliable baseload supplies, there ought to be limits to how far it can be pushed. A nuclear premium of some level might be justified, but Hinkley lives in a financial world of its own, even before battery technology (possibly) shifts the economics further in favour of renewables. A credible energy strategy would concentrate on wind- and gas-fired stations, and invite nuclear to the game only if it can vaguely compete on price. The government should draw the obvious conclusion from Monday’s successful auction. One Hinkley is bad enough; a series of follow-on white elephants would be a disgrace.
Guardian 11th Sept 2017 read more »
A sharp fall in the cost of wind energy should mark the end of plans to build a major nuclear power plant, according to Green Party leader Caroline Lucas. Experts say windfarm developers may secure guaranteed payments from a government subsidy pot for power as low as £70-80 per megawatt hour – a drop of up to £50 per hour compared to two years ago and lower in cost than the planned Hinkley Point C station in Somerset.
Huffington Post 11th Sept 2017 read more »
Green Party 11th Sept 2017 read more »