Letter Christopher Jessop: Had we invested that £1.5bn in green generation, what might it have bought? At current median project prices of £1.3m per megawatt (MW), we could have had 1,150MW of extra onshore wind turbine capacity. The Digest of UK Energy Statistics onshore wind load factor is 27.3%, therefore that extra hardware would on average generate 314MW of clean electricity, with no risk of reactor meltdowns, and without producing bomb material or the wherewithal for nuclear terrorism. Furthermore, wind turbine projects bring with them well-distributed inward UK investment, installation and maintenance jobs, wayleave revenue for landowners, rates revenue for local authorities, and local community income. They bring home-generated power – without the need for oil wars or fracking, and no damaging balance-of-payments issues. History tells us that this Hinkley cost increase and start delay is only the first of many such announcements; meanwhile, the failure of Toshiba’s nuclear power business surely casts doubt on the viability of even the largest nuclear equipment manufacturers. As almost every other administration quits nuclear power as fast as possible in favour of clean electricity, smart demand response and storage technologies, why are we still backing megalithic, inflexible, economically toxic EDF Betamax?
Guardian 5th July 2017 read more »
With Hinkley Point already behind schedule a Plan B is urgently required – thankfully the government’s imminent Clean Growth Plan provides the perfect opportunity to deliver one. Hands up if you are surprised. In an age of 360-degree unpredictability it is strangely reassuring to discover some things never change. The sun comes up in the morning, the tides ebb and flow, and European nuclear projects are late and over budget. The revelation this week that EDF reckons its flagship Hinkley Point project is already 15 months behind schedule and £1.5bn over budget is the least surprising news since confirmation Donald Trump spent the weekend playing golf. Before anyone starts celebrating the challenges facing EDF it is crucial to remember the project and the huge quantities of clean power it is expected to deliver remain of strategic importance to both the UK’s energy security and its climate goals. Many environmentalists may want to see the project cancelled, but further delays or full blown abandonment of the project risk dealing a major blow to the UK’s decarbonisation efforts. There was a different sort of surprise earlier this year, an extremely welcome one. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) quietly confirmed that it expects renewable power deployment to be significantly higher than previously thought beyond 2020, primarily due to the plummeting cost and surging popularity of solar power and storage technologies. BEIS’ projections now expect cumulative new build renewables capacity from 2016 to 2035 to reach 45GW, marking a sharp increase in the 2015 projection for 33GW of new capacity. The energy supply gap that would be created by Hinkley Point delays is already narrower than feared just a few months ago. Better still, another happy surprise could come later this autumn with the results of the government’s latest clean power contract auction for offshore wind projects. The rumour is the bids will be extremely competitive, promising to deliver offshore wind at a price well below the guaranteed rates being offered to Hinkley Point. The government should be able to purchase a lot more clean power capacity than expected for the same outlay, narrowing any Hinkley-related supply gap still further.
Business Green 6th July 2017 read more »