John Sauven: Hinnkley Point C, the multibillion pound nuclear deal, years in the making, is on the cusp of unravelling. At the last minute, the government has hit the pause button in order to take a hard look at what Hinkley is offering in return for £37bn of energy consumers’ money. The voices of opposition are growing. Even newspapers which have supported the nuclear industry are raising doubts. Its supporters chant the same mantra: there is no alternative, Britain needs Hinkley to keep the lights on. That was the warning from the then business secretary, John Hutton, in 2008 yet the lights are still on and Lord Hutton is now the chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association. But the world – and the electricity landscape – has changed radically since 2008. Then, just 5.5% of the UK’s electricity came from renewables. It’s now 25%. Costs have plummeted – solar photovoltaic is 50% cheaper than it was in 2011, onshore wind is down 43%. More than 800,000 homes now have rooftop solar and theUK was recently ranked sixth in the world for total solar capacity – despite our weather. It is ranked first in the world for offshore wind,which is on course to supply 10% of our power by 2020, much more than Hinkley C. The cost for wind and solar is coming down too. The way we increasingly get our energy is changing. The former chief executive of the National Grid, Steve Holliday, said that the idea that we need nuclear power stations to provide baseload electricity is “outdated”.
Guardian 8th Aug 2016 read more »
Let’s turn our attention to ‘tidal lagoons’: you may have heard that phrase in discussion of alternatives to Hinkley Point and wondered what it means. It refers to a £1 billion project, awaiting ministerial approval, to build a walled lagoon in Swansea Bay that would generate (through largely British-built turbines) electricity on the ebb and flood of every tide, 14 hours a day for a project lifetime of 120 years. It could be brought into operation within five years — but to make that happen it requires subsidy at levels comparable to offshore wind or new nuclear generation; it also requires millions of tonnes of concrete and aggregates from quarries in Cornwall and elsewhere, and will radically alter the local environment for sea life and wading birds. So lagoon power is not without teething problems. But they look relatively modest compared to, say, betting our energy future on nuclear reactor designs that might not work at all and storing the toxic waste afterwards. Once proven, the Swansea project could be rapidly scaled up, with a second lagoon at Cardiff that would be almost 12 times larger and a string of other sites along the English and Welsh west coast.
Spectator 7th Aug 2016 read more »
Dave Elliott: With repeated delays in making a final investment decision (the plant was at one time expected to the running by ‘Christmas 2017’), there have been many calls for a ‘Plan B’ – and there are renewable options some of which could be speeded up. Several scenarios along these lines have been produced, most of which do not include any new nuclear plants:http://delliott6.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/after-hinkley-plan-b.html With on-shore wind and solar projects now going ahead at much lower CfD strike prices than that promised for Hinkley, if and when it started up in the mid to late 2020s, the alternative scenarios are beginning to look very attractive, even when the extra cost of grid balancing to deal with the variability of wind and solar is included. And crucially, offshore wind projects are now set to get a lower strike price from 2026 (£85/MWh) than Hinkley would get if it ever starts up- £92.5/MWh. With only 38% of the UK public now supporting nuclear power, and 81% backing renewables, it seems like a rethink is called for.
Environmental Research Web 6th Aug 2016 read more »
The chief executive of Dong Energy, Henrik Poulsen, was speaking after the government delayed a decision on a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, amid concerns about the £18bn cost of the project and the high price of the electricity that would be generated. Theresa May’s new administration wants more time to look at the costs and expects to announce a decision in the autumn. In the meantime, Mr Poulsen argues that the UK does not need to rely on nuclear power to meet future energy needs. He said: “Could you build a national energy policy without nuclear? Yes you could and if you needed to fill a (energy capacity) gap offshore, wind could be accelerated to fill such a gap. “We hope offshore wind will remain a key component in the future energy system and are optimistic about prospects under the new government.”
In Cumbria 9th Aug 2016 read more »