Michael Liebreich: If you doubt that the Government’s decision to green-light Hinkley C is bad for the country, type “Hinkley decision praised” into Google. The only voices of support are from the French Government, the project’s main owner EDF, various former advisors to George Osborne, and Malcolm Pyne – a Somerset butcher who has featured heavily in the project’s PR. Conversely, type “Hinkley decision criticised”, and you’ll find every energy and economics expert in the land lining up to put the boot in. Let me count the ways in which Hinkley is a bad deal. First there is the eye-watering cost. Secondly, there are just so many other ways in the country could generate 3.2 gigawatts of zero-carbon energy more cheaply. You could build more renewable generating capacity – particularly onshore wind, which has now become the cheapest potential form of new-build power generation in the UK – and pair it with a range of technologies to manage intermittency. You could build a fleet of new gas power stations and get serious about carbon capture and storage. You could massively increase the country’s interconnections with Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and buy cheap surplus power from their clean energy over-capacity. Alternatively, you could eliminate 3.2 gigawatts of demand by spending a huge amount less than £87bn on energy efficiency. Third is the diplomatic harm which the recent will-they-won’t-they saga has undoubtedly inflicted – just at a time when the UK needs all the goodwill it can muster among both EU members and major Asian trading partners. It would be nice to believe that Theresa May extracted some valuable diplomatic concessions from the French in exchange for giving the green light – we’ll rescue your failing nuclear industry if you support us on Brexit, that sort of thing – but if she did, there is no sign of it from the current EU summit in Bratislava. Finally, perhaps the greatest tragedy of the Hinkley decision is the hole it blows in the UK’s industrial strategy before it has even left the dry dock at the new BEIS. Given the global trend towards a lower-carbon economy, enshrined in last year’s Paris Agreement, any UK industrial strategy must surely be based on a transition to clean energy and transportation. Instead, Hinkley throws a hugely expensive lifebelt to the drowning French nuclear industry and its over-priced, over-complicated, over-regulated 1970s technology. History will judge Theresa May harshly for not killing this train-wreck of a project when she had the chance.
Reaction 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The government’s decision last week to give the final go-ahead to Hinkley Point C, marks the “relaunch of nuclear in Europe”, the boss of EDF Energy has claimed. Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said it will “transform” the prospects for the industry and have “global implications” for the battle against climate change. “Hinkley Point C is a first,” he added, speaking at the World Nuclear Symposium in London. “The momentum it creates restarting the nuclear new build industry will help future projects – including ours – to be even more competitive.”
Utility Week 19th Sept 2016 read more »
As most of you reading this are probably aware, despite the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, ordering of a review of the project a few months back, it appears that there was never a serious intent to cancel the project, as it was fully approved by May a few days ago, on September 15. According to a report released by Greenpeace, the answer is pretty simple: The people who approved and pushed for the approval of the £18 billion (and rising) project stand to benefit from its approval. Financially. This is probably the only way that the approval of the project makes any kind of sense (other than the obvious factor of pressure from the Chinese government). As Green Party MP Caroline Lucas put it, the Hinkley Point C project is “the biggest white elephant in British history,” so of course money is going to be found at the root of it. The Canary provides more on the report, revealing that “ten advisers and civil servants who worked at the former Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the last five years had links to EDF. One was recently employed by the DECC and was also a manager at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the regulator for the nuclear industry. This was before they became a licensing officer for EDF.”
Renew Economy 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Is Hinkley Point C the gateway to a new generation of UK nuclear reactors? If it proceeds, it points to a future UK generation mix heavily reliant on fixed-cost generation and provides a bleak outlook for gas-fired operators, CCS and new forms of renewables like tidal power. But it could still prove an expensive white-elephant that ends rather than rejuvenates the UK’s nuclear future. Given the problems with existing EPR builds, EDF has to prove that it can deliver an EPR on time and on budget.
Platts 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The Sahara and Somerset don’t strike one as obvious doppelgangers: you’re as unlikely to find date palms in the Mendips as to come across a cider brewery on a sand dune. . Niger is the world’s fourth largest uranium producer, with two major mines and several smaller ones, but its uranium wealth has failed to lift the vast majority of the population out of grinding poverty (nor answer its own domestic energy needs – most of its electricity is imported from Nigeria). In Niger, 72.2 per cent of the working population survives on wages no higher than $2 per day; the country came bottom out of 188 territories ranked in the 2014 UN Human Development Index. Africa doesn’t need nuclear, when it has plentiful access to the greatest energy resource available – the sun. 1,500 miles south of Hinkley in the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant. The first phase, Noor One, went live in February, and the site is expected to reach a generating capacity of 580 megawatts by 2018 – enough to power a million homes. 500,000 crescent-shaped mirrors gleam across the desert, following the turn of the sun, sucking the heat down through steel pipes into steam-driven, energy-generating turbines. Instead of a nuclear site at Hinkley Point, why not a solar one near Agadez, Niger? Instead of Bradwell, how about Timbuktu? Nuclear can’t do a lot for Africa, but solar can do a lot for everyone. It’s time to stop the waste and clean up our act.
Telegraph 19th Sept 2016 read more »
POLITICO asked for two views on the power plant. First, Tim Yeo, chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, a pro-nuclear campaign group, makes the case for Hinkley. Then Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based independent international analyst on energy and nuclear policy, looks at some of the drawbacks.
World Nuclear Industry Status Report 15th Sept 2016 read more »
Russia’s state-owned nuclear developer has warned EDF that delays or cost overruns at its Hinkley Point power project risk damaging the credibility of the wider industry. Kirill Komarov, deputy chief executive of Rosatom, the Kremlin-controlled company that is building more reactors than any other group, said that problems at other EDF projects, such as Flamanville in France, were having a detrimental impact on the reputation of the industry. He said that a repeat of such problems at Hinkley Point C, an £18 billion scheme approved by the government last week, would have implications for rival nuclear developers, including Rosatom.
Times 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Nigel Cann has been working in nuclear power for more than 30 years, starting as an apprentice technician, later running Hinkley Point B power station in Somerset. For the last five years he has been helping EDF get ready to build Hinkley Point C. “Some people might be daunted to be having to deliver this project, but for me it’s fantastic – I’ve got the best job in the nuclear industry and the best job in UK construction,” he says. “But nobody here underestimates the scale of the challenge: 25,000 people will help build the power station; we will use 75 times more concrete than it took to build the Millennium Stadium; we are running a 175 hectare construction site.” Last week the government finally gave the go ahead to construction of the £18bn Hinkley Point C project.
Construction Index 20th Sept 2016 read more »