Letter Prof Barry Jones: Lord Hutton’s defence of new nuclear power stations (Letters, February 24) is remarkably disingenuous. The factual arguments are somewhat misleading. On the morning of February 24, for instance, nuclear power stations provided only 7.4GW of the total of just over 40GW of electricity supplied by the UK’s National Grid. Moreover, new nuclear is price-competitive with other low-carbon generation only by ignoring the lowest costs renewable sources – onshore wind and large solar farms – from which public subsidies are being progressively removed by the government. Far more serious are the considerations ignored in Lord Hutton’s arguments. The accelerating rate of technological innovation in the generation of electricity and the storage of generating potential, in batteries or hydrogen fuel cell installations, is overlooked, despite its transformational potential for the electricity mark et over the life of any new nuclear power stations. The rising tide of arguments in favour of a more distributed and dispersed system of electricity generation, and transmission, from many informed observers, including Steve Holliday, chief executive of the UK’s National Grid, are effectively sidestepped. Finally, Lord Hutton’s arguments simply ignore the role that the costs to consumers’ bills of new nuclear power stations will play in the longer-term “death spiral” facing large-scale power generators, as many consumers take advantage of new technologies to switch to home generation of electricity and detach from the National Grid.
FT 25th Feb 2016 read more »