Electricity from planned nuclear plant ‘could all end up being exported to countries with fewer renewables, like France, at a price massively subsidised by Britain’s hard-working bill payers’ It is a claim that, if true, would mean Britain is about to make one of the biggest economical mistakes in its history, a blunder that would damage our country’s finances for decades and almost inevitably cause the Government to fall. For, according to Keith Barnham, an emeritus professor of physics, the total subsidy paid to the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power station by the British taxpayer could reach a staggering £53 billion over its lifetime – and the main beneficiaries will be French. He argues that such is the likely growth of renewables that the UK will not actually need the Hinkley’s electricity, so it will be sold abroad. And, he says, the most likely customers are in France, home of energy giant EDF, which is expected to build the plant. Professor Barnham, of Imperial College London, argues that the expansion of renewables will mean that by 2029 there will be “no demand for continuous and expensive nuclear power in the UK”.
Independent 9th May 2016 read more »
Prof Keith Barnham: The Government should scrap its costly Hinkley Point deal and accept renewables can keep the lights on. With EDF’s decision on Hinkley Point C likely to be delayed until next year it is imperative that the government re-assesses the need for new nuclear power in 2025. The exponential rise in renewable power generation worldwide, reported in a recent paper in Nature Materials, has radically changed the electricity supply scene since 2006 when Labour decided for new nuclear. Renewable power has made new nuclear unnecessary in the UK and a possible electoral liability in 2020. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said recently “new nuclear is the only proven low-carbon technology that can provide continuous power”. This statement is demonstrably incorrect in all respects. Until a prototype works, new nuclear remains an unproven technology and the carbon footprint of its construction cannot be accurately estimated. Furthermore, Rudd appears unaware that a number of proven, low-carbon technologies are already delivering continuous power to the UK grid. Data produced by her own Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows that in 2014 hydropower contributed 1.7 GW to the grid. Also six bio-electricity technologies, all capable of continuous power operation, together produced 4.5 GW of electric power. That is already 6.2 GW of continuous power, nearly twice the 3.2 GW that Hinkley will struggle to produce by 2030. Bio-electricity could provide ten times 3.2 GW before the first of the two proposed reactors at Hinkley operates. Our analysis in Nature Materials shows that, were these six bio-electricity technologies to continue expanding at the average rate they achieved from 2011 to 2014, they would produce 32 GW of power by 2024. Two of these proven renewable technologies, hydropower and biomethane produced from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of farm and food waste, have the lowest carbon footprints of all forms of electricity generation. The carbon footprint of existing nuclear generators is a matter of considerable controversy in the scientific literature but is probably at least five times higher. The low carbon footprint of AD is well established. If the waste is left to rot on farms or in landfill it produces copious amounts of greenhouse gases.
Independent 9th May 2016 read more »
The long-running saga surrounding the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has taken a further twist today, as reports suggested additional Chinese investors could back the project and it emerged a key UN committee has raised questions about the approval process for the controversial development. The news is likely to revive criticism of the initial deal, which prompted warnings from some quarters that Chinese investment in the project could present a security risk for the UK. CNNC is arguably seen as more controversial than CGN, given it has close ties to the Chinese military. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change told the Guardian the government is “confident that we have met the relevant international requirements in relation to Hinkley Point C”. However, experts warned the UN ruling could strengthen the hand of those neighbouring countries that have voiced opposition to the Hinkley Point project, including Austria which has previously launched legal action over the subsidies provided to the proposed development. The UN committee advised the UK should now “enter into discussions with possibly affected parties, including parties that cannot exclude a significant adverse transboundary impact from the activity at HPC, in order to agree on whether notification is useful at the current stage”. The latest developments follow a series of delays to the project, which has seen EDF repeatedly stress it is nearing a Final Investment Decision despite widespread reports of tensions within the company over the planned investment.
Business Green 9th May 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes a report noted in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper that the United Nations Economic and Social Council has ruled that the UK Government has failed to consult European countries properly over potential environmental risks at Hinkley Point. NFLA has consistently argued that the national and international consultations on the Hinkley Point C development have been inadequate, and the emergency planning and nuclear safety issues around the development should have received much more consideration. An Taisce (the Irish National Trust) shared such a view and went to the UK High Court to argue this and a number of other points relating to compliance with European environmental legislation. This ruling from the United Nations clearly may have an impact now on the High Court’s ruling to reject An Taisce’s original legal challenge.
NFLA 9th May 2016 read more »