UK kills wind and solar support as it seeks to reboot nuclear

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Just weeks after slashing subsidies to solar and wind energy, the UK conservative government has signed a deal with Chinese and French state-owned firms to subsidise the construction of the £24 billion ($A50bn) Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor.

It will be the most expensive power plant ever constructed in the world, and the 3.2GW facility has already been dubbed – even by Britain’s conservative press – as possibly the biggest white elephant.


The UK government has offered a guaranteed rate of £92.50/MWh ($A200/MWh) for the output of  Hinkley Point C, double the current wholesale energy price in the UK. This price will rise with inflation over the following 35 years to the point where it could reach nearly $500/MWh. It has also offered billions of pounds in loan guarantees.

The deal was finalised during a visit to the UK by Chinese president Xi Jingping – a contract that will see China take a central role in nuclear power in the country, taking a one-third stake in Hinkley C, and then use its own technology to build more reactors elsewhere.

Even pro-nuclear supporters agree that the numbers and the payments are absurd. But without them, the Chinese and French government-owned nuclear companies would not have come to the table, and the reactors would not be built. As it is, some say the investors will make off with £84 billion in revenue.

The Hinkley plant will use the same technology being used by EdF in new plants in Finland and France, both of which have run massively over time, and over budget, sending the development firm Areva, to near bankruptcy.

As the UK decision was announced, the solar industry produced new research showing that solar and storage would require just half the subsidy of Hinkley Point C  to deliver the same amount of power over the same lifetime.

The STA calculated that the subsidy needed for Hinkley C would come to £29.7 billion, compared to £14.7 billion for solar and storage – £3.8 billion for the solar element, and £10.9 billion for storage.

It is expected that neither wind nor solar will need additional subsidies post 2020, as costs come down to match fossil fuels. But renewables development has been stopped in its tracks after the Tory government announced plans to quickly phase out subsidies for rooftop solar, large-scale solar parks and onshore wind power.

Three solar companies have already announced their closure, with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg of the Tory plan since its re-election earlier this year, as it jettisons policies it once claimed its own as part of the “greenest government ever”, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

It is also closing  the flagship “green deal” scheme that provided incentives to homeowners to invest in insulation for their homes. It has also watered down incentives for electric vehicles, abandoned plans for “zero carbon” homes, approved fracking for gas in nature sites, and wants to sell off its Green Bank.

Former energy minister Ed Davey – a Liberal Democrat – said the Hinkley Point C commitment was “bonkers economics”. Even the conservative Telegraph newspaper described the subsidy as a “national scandal”.

The plant, originally due to go into production in 2017 at a cost of less than £10 billion, will now not be built until 2025 at the earliest, possibly not till 2033, and cost more than twice that much.

The Tories have been accused of double standards, and energy minister Andrea Leadsom revealed the muddled thinking. She said no-one would “advocate an industry that only survives because of a subsidy paid by the bill-payer”. She then went on to describe nuclear as “very expensive” and needing a subsidy of its own.

Davey described the decisions as an “ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy” – but it is one that many would like to see repeated in Australia.

AAP/Alan Porritt

Bjorn Lomborg, the climate “confusionist” who has had proposed funding for an Australian based research centre withdrawn, launched another extraordinary attack against wind and solar in The Australian on Friday.

These sentiments run through the pro-nuclear support networks who, rather than suggesting that nuclear and renewables should co-exist, want renewable energy to be capped at low levels.

A new movement called “Eco Modernists”, which advocates nuclear and downplays renewables, held its UK launch at a right-wing think tank that denies climate science. Their common ideology? A hatred and disrespect of “green” technology.

Indeed, South Australia’s Royal Commission into nuclear energy – proposed by Labor and strongly supported by the Federal Coalition – includes a range of submissions from nuclear lobbyists seeking to limit the extent of renewable energy development in Australia.

The World Nuclear Association, for instance, says Australia’s main energy market “could accommodate …  up to 20 large nuclear units of 1000-1300MW each.”

This means force-feeding 26GW of new baseload capacity into a market which already recognises that its current baseload capacity of 26GW (of coal power) is around one-third more than it needs.

The WNA even suggests that some of these plants should be built in South Australia, which has average demand needs of little more than 1GW. Apart from the fact that WNA’s own submission recognises it is a bad idea to have any single plant accounting for more than 10 per cent in a local network, the network upgrade to accommodate this would be phenomenal.

Indeed, the world is moving quickly towards decentralised energy. The UK National Grid – which estimates the cost of back-up power required to protect the grid, should Hinkley C “trip”, at more than $12 billion – says the era of large centralised power stations is coming to an end and the idea of large baseload power stations is “outdated.”

In the US, many major nuclear operators are looking to shut down individual plants, or quit the industry altogether, because their ageing generators can no longer compete in a deregulated market, where prices are pushed down by the falling cost of gas generation and renewables.

Around one-third of nuclear reactors may close because of this, the Wall Street Journal reported, and while several are currently being built, they are all running over budget, and over time, and will likely not be repeated.

The WNA admits that nuclear does not work in a deregulated market, and would require special interventions by the state. It, like other submissions, quotes a paper co-written by Barry Brook, one of the commissioners and a co-author of the Eco-Modernist manifesto, pushing the case for nuclear over renewables.

It is worth noting that the main mining and energy lobbies, including the lobby representing the main coal-fired generators in Australia, have also made submissions supportive of nuclear in Australia.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia, which represents the likes of AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustraia, says renewable energy costs are “significantly higher” than nuclear energy. The mining lobby repeats those claims, quoting a study by Brooks’ doctoral student that uses highly inflated costs for solar and wind, and cost estimates for nuclear nearly one-half cheaper than that of Hinkley.

Again, the miners and the coal-fired generators have something in common – support for extractive industries, and for the primacy of centralised power over decentralised power.

As with the nuclear boosters and the climate skeptics, the nuclear industry and the coal industry make strange but convenient bed-fellows in fighting the growth of renewables, and what they dismiss as the “green blob”.

But renewables – wind and solar – already provide more than 40 per cent of demand in South Australia. Within a few years, they will provide more than 50 per cent, and the arrival of cost-effective battery storage technology will change the economics, and the nature of the grid. That scenario will quickly be repeated elsewhere, if the incumbents don’t get in the way.  

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  • Ken Dyer

    Mind-boggling! Nuclear is an economic, technological and ecological zombie, yet it refuses to die. Governments who support this undead thing have to be corrupt just as the Australian Government is corrupt in its continued support of the Adani coal mining project. Even though voters are overwhelmingly showing that renewable energy is desirable, government is still stuck with centralised command and control fossil fuel energy industries. Say no to nuclear and leave coal in the ground!

    • Ben Heard

      Yes, the problem is that is seems nearly impossible to do the former and achieve the latter.

    • Rich

      Mind boggling that people voted this administration into office.

      • Coley

        Aye whey, there wasn’t much choice, bunch of nasty bastards V a bunch of clueless bastards;)

  • Peter Grant

    James Meek gives an insightful background to ‘re-nationalisation’ of the British Electricity system by the French government owned EDF in his Sep 2012 London Review of Books article, and a context for this eventual Hinkley C decision. The only economy that Hinkley C was ever going to stack up in was the political economy of vested interests, one is tempted to make the same observation about the SA nuclear royal commission.

  • juxx0r

    If it only takes one more reactor to end them all, then I’m all for having a nuclear reactor in South Australia, the giggles it provides as it tries to load follow in that grid will be hilarious. If Nahan reckons WA will have 100% daytime load from solar, then SA will too. And that would happen a couple of years before they finish building it. So bring it on, i’ll even chip in for the construction costs. I’ve got $100 for construction and $100 that it will never start.

  • Geoff

    who the F%#K is this Bjorn Lomborg guy? sure he’s got dyed hair and tries to look all young genius like, but he’s a goose! he’s got no innovation and is something that is annoying and needs to be crushed, like a mosquito. I would seriously kick his teeth in if I ever see him on the street…

    • Coley

      Don’t be daft, he’s an annoying idiot, but so are most of the liberal lot, directing physical violence towards them, while possibly satisfying, is in the long term self destructive.
      Far better finding a photo of them giving head to a dead pig;)
      Don’t let this minor indiscretion die;)

  • Ben Heard

    Can you be clearer about how we inflated the cost of renewables in that study? I think the figures are pretty bang on (note the cheapest energy LCOE cost we found was for wind). Yes, the nuclear costs we showed are less than Hinkley… as are the nuclear costs for everything in the world except Hinkley!!! If we focused on a single reactor, it would be a terribly unreliable report. I happen to pretty much agree with the first half of this article, Hinkley is a bit of a clusterfuck in my opinion. I was pretty early in saying it was too expensive, as documented here, and it went up from there!!!

    • Asteroid Miner

      Abandon Hinkley and buy a modular reactor from the US.

      • Coley

        Abandon Hinckley and stick a few Wind farms in the Lake District and ramp up the tidal lagoon projects.
        Give an increased FIT for solar on the roofs of large buildings, think outside of the narrow box of the 20th century, FFS.

    • So, just quickly, because i am still trying to enjoy my weekend. Your costs of solar tower with storage (i can’t see that you specify how much storage, which would be key), is $250/MWh. Even Alinta, without trying very hard because they assumed 100% equity and no debt, put it at a cost of $201/MWh. Their best case scenario was $149/MWh, and that would fit in with the contract for the Redstone project in South Africa, which is $US125/MWh. The project in Chile is of similar amount.
      Wind energy you put at $90-$110/MWh. The ACT government’s wind auction discovered much cheaper prices, particularly given that they were fixed prices (unlike Hinkley), so the comparative price was probably sub $70/MWh. You put $2,000/kW installed for wind, when the last two wind farms (snow own 2 and Ararat are around or sub $1,700k/W)
      Finally, there is no mention of solar PV, which is likely to be paired with CST. That is seen at $130/MWh and falling fast as supply chain improves.
      You apply similar “risk weighting” of capital (WACC) to wind and nuclear. I don’t think that’s a real world assumption, given the finance world’s familiarity and comfort with wind, and compared with nuclear.
      And the costs for nuclear might reflect “economic studies” but not reality, real world experience like Hinckley. As you suggest, Hinckley was a cluster****, but mostly it was embarrassing for nuclear supporters, because they realise that without those extraordinary subsidies, neither the French nor the Chinese government owned companies were likely to come to the table. That’s the grim reality facing nuclear in western, liberated economies.

      • Ben Heard

        Thanks, I’ll review some of that and let you know what I think. I would need to check your reference. My number for Alinta solar is from the 2014 feasibility study outcome, $15,926 per kW installed and $258 per MWh. Where are your numbers from for the Pt Augusta proposal?

        There was no solar PV in the proposal we were investigating for the purposes of comparison and the comparison would be moot.

        The wind may well warrant revisiting. It would not materially impact the outcome; we already found it the cheapest marginal electricity, but the costs of the overall solution were driven by the CST and the solution was still completely inferior to the nuclear solution in terms of the firm capacity.

        And no, Giles, you are just cherry picking with Hinkley. There is plenty of “real world” outcomes that are very different which drove the numbers we applied.

        • Plenty? In western democracies with liberalised energy markets? Do tell. Remember with Hinckley, even after all the index-linked guaranteed price and all the other commitments, the UK still had to slap another $4.5 billion on the table in the form of government guarantees to get the Chinese interested.

          Here are Alinta numbers: the first modelling was ridiculous, performed by a coal-fired generator with no real interest in transition. Even these numbers are considered conservative and based on a 50MW facility, which is not optimum, and hardly appropriate for replacement of much bigger facility. But they did get down to $149/MWh.

          • Ben Heard

            And they “got it up” to $253. More to the point, it was the plausible range of estimates for testing the cost:benefit. If we want to use this source, we should use the base case. If we want to quote one end of the range, we need to quote the other end too. Otherwise, it is a type of lying, a bit like climate deniers do when they talk about “uncertainty” in climate models; they only mention one direction.

          • Nothing very plausible about Alinta’s estimates. Remember they did this based on 100% equity, no debt financing. Cost of capital is critical for any project. Imagine the cost of a nuclear plant with 100% equity!!!! Interestingly enough, they did look at Vast Solar’s array in NSW and said that based on their cost estimates, it was viable, suggesting costs of around $130/MWh or less – they didn’t specify. but as i said, best test case is what is actually happening in real world, and that makes the Crescent Dunes, South Africa and Chile projects worthwhile benchmarks. Otherwise, it is a type of lying, a bit like climate deniers do when they talk about “uncertainty” in climate models; they only mention one direction.

          • Oops, that last bit got tacked on. didn’t mean to quote you back.

          • Ben Heard

            Giles… you were the one who started us off with that reference, remember? If you think it’s not plausible, leave it alone. Fact is this was a fully-funded study by a professional consultancy, with ARENA and SA Government involvement, based on local conditions. You can reject the outcome if you wish. Your prerogative.

            As for the rest, you have lost me a bit: what are you actually looking for from me? I’ll try and sum up:
            -the ZCO report used costs based on the work of the Repower Port Augusta report for solar costs. They were not “our” costs. Our LCOE and capital estimates, which we had to make as RPA lacked transparency, were nearly bang on the earlier milestone report and on the high side for the final report. If we ever release another edition we will need to have a do-over of the whole assessment; wind, nuclear and solar. You reject the validity of those milestone reports and my work in preference to quoted international examples (this is what I infer). That’s fine.
            -The published paper was a review of South Australian electricity with a section on solar thermal. For that section of a long manuscript we naturally referred to the findings of a multi-million dollar study based right here in South Australia and reported the findings accurately. Again, you reject that study. That, again, is fine.

            If you have good references for the terms and contract pricing for the international examples you keep referring to, please post links so I can get them, save them and use them in future when those are the appropriate references to use.

          • Yes Ben. I was just pointing out that the study you did – and which is referenced in submissions to the Royal Commission – uses cost assessments for solar and wind which are out of date. i think that point has been proved, because your costings of solar thermal relied on a study which was a year old, discredited and quickly revised. (and in my and other opinion still over the top – but that is another story). It is a common complaint in this arena – even the IEA uses cost estimates for solar (PV) which are already being beaten.

          • Yo Ben. You were looking for examples of solar plus storage beating your estimates? Here’s one. Last Friday’s auction in Chile, Abengoa bid $US97/MWh for “24 hour solar”. Just a tad below your estimate of $250/MWh.

          • Oh, and no subsidies.

      • Ben Heard

        Scratch that request for source, found it. Final milestone report

      • Coley

        The other two projects in Finland and France are also major clusterfucks, given their publicly available costs and delays why the hell is Cameron & Co even considering it? A judicial enquiry might not be a bad idea?

  • Ben Heard

    “But renewables – wind and solar – already provide more than 40 per cent of demand in South Australia.” Per year. On average. And some days we get almost zero…These types of simplistic, cherry-picked figures would hold a lot more meaning if SA were an isolated grid. It is not, it is a small part of the very much larger NEM, with two interconnectors and plans for more. The NEM overall has capacity to accommodate a great deal of variable renewable energy at relatively little cost or even net benefit for consumers. Thanks to canny policy, the lions share of that development has occurred in SA. It is the share of renewables in the NEM that should be of interest, and that remains around the 5 % mark excluding hydro. Which is much better than it used to be, and there is scope for plenty more at low cost. However those marginal costs of adding variable renewables will change as the penetration grid-wide rises to more appreciable levels. We need to plan for that point and what we will need to do to finish the decarbonisation task. For those interested to know more it is documented in this peer-reviewed paper.

    • I don’t get this. It’s a bit like saying Germany’s plan to go 80% renewables is not meaningful because it is part of a much bigger Euro grid. What is being achieved in South Australia is hugely significant, because the local grid (and it acts as a separate market despite the interconnectors) has been coping well. Studies – and the S.A. experience – show that much more renewables than thought can be accommodated. Go back a decade, and no grid operator would admit that more than 10 per cent could be absorbed. That is rapidly changing – not just due to solar and wind – but by the change of culture at the grid operators, and the technology (software, smart systems, predictive data) that allows this. Remember, the biggest swing factor in the grid is demand, not supply. Storage is emerging rapidly, cutting grid costs and offering ancillary services such as voltage and frequency. Its value chain will be spread across grid, generation and consumption.
      Also, one note, wind and solar probably providing more than 7.5 per cent now (50 per cent above your estimate), with solar PV alone doing 2.5% of national demand.

      • Ben Heard

        “50 per cent above your estimate”. That makes me chuckle. Truly indicative of the approach you bring to communicating these issues. Anyway, that’s good news and if you can provide me the source that would be great.

        If you don’t get it, then do please read the paper. It went top 5 globally for the publisher and I was awarded the Publication Medal for it. That said, if you really don’t get it I am happy to explain.

        Firstly, Germany has a population of 80 million people in a small area compared to SA with 1.6 million in a large area. That’s just a couple of reasons to take care with simplistic comparisons.

        Why does it matter that SA is part of a larger grid? Because it was the underlying resilience in that larger grid that was there all along that has permitted SA to install so much wind at relatively low cost. The backup requirements were all ready in place as part of the reliability of the system. In any system like that with 0 % variable , there will be an amount of variable renewable that can be added at either little cost or even net benefit to consumers, provided the capital costs are low enough which, for onshore wind, they have been.

        Isolate SA and you would have a different picture. On all the days, and there are many, when VRE provides SA with close to zero, SA would need to maintain it’s own committed backup to maintain reliability, rather than having a huge market to import low-cost power whenever needed. SA would be bearing these costs and VRE would become expensive to add at much lower penetrations. And when those demand swings you rightly mention coincide with stochastically determined supply swings? That will be challenging.

        Furthermore, the correlation of wind between esp. SA and Vic but also more broadly than that means SA is really just adding the amount of low-cost VRE the system can take overall. Good on us for keeping a good policy environment. But if Vic were building at the same penetration rate as us, the game would change. They would need supply at the same time we need supply when wind is low. They would want to sell at the same time we want to sell when wind is high. On that latter point, correlated wind eventually canibalises it’s own market; new additions will run out of profitable hours for selling. The VRE eventually will find it’s economic limit. I don’t want variable renewables capped; I want variable renewables facilitated to the highest possible penetration where net benefit for consumers is maintained. You are right; that is likely far higher than many once thought. Point is, there will be such a point and we need a good plan for what happens next. There are great lessons from SA but if we overcook it, we are going to fall flat in the future when it comes to plans to decarbonise the whole NEM.

        As to storage, first and best thing would be storage to shift home PV to evening peak dispatch to reduce peak demand. That will required very different approaches to incentivising PV.

        Beyond that, if storage ever becomes competitive at utility scale, the biggest users will be baseload plants. They will run full tilt through the demand variations and sell their stored power at peak demand. We will get a much-rationalised supply system as a result. Note that plant could be nuclear, coal or gas as easily or more than wind or solar. Storage is not “owned” by renewables.

        • Congratulations on your Publications Medal. What a pity the reviewers didn’t pick up the obvious cost discrepancies. But this is a common trait amongst what i will call the establishment – including the IEA – who are simply not prepared for the changes that are coming. Yet the big global utilities clearly are, which is why they focused on decentralised generation, micro-grids, smart technology etc. As for the rest, don’t disagree with much. Tariffs are critical, both in reflecting real costs and true values. Storage is already cost competitive in many cases, but won’t be deployed as much because the regulations don’t value it. (RAB etc).
          We mostly disagree on the ability and scope of RE to do the job. Will dig up data on wind and solar output later. Sorry, i should have said output is half as much again as you suggested.

          • Ben Heard

            Honestly Giles, must you be so rude at all times? It happens this paper took 12 months from acceptance to publication. We updated references at the latest possible time, including the most up-to-date reference at the time for Alinta solar; same reference you have used, earlier iteration. It’s not “the establishment” at work. The information was accurate when reviewed. I’m always interested in being correct in my work and up-to-date with data, it’s essential to what I do. Maybe you are not familiar with the process of peer-reviewed publication, but yes, it comes with limits, one being it lacks the immediacy of journalism.

            The way you choose to write about and portray me is continually combative. We could always try learning from each other courteously instead.

          • I don’t understand why you need to rely on Alinta – a coal generator highly critical of renewables – for your objective costings of CST. The Tonopah contract has been common knowledge for nearly three years, the South Africa PPA for solar thermal was struck more than a year ago. There is plenty of evidence elsewhere that CST is much lower cost than your estimates. You could have used the IEA solar thermal roadmap, for instance, which is conservative but a lot less than yours.

          • Ben Heard

            Good source, particularly for global review. It’s likely that was published after the paper was accepted. My paper was a focus on SA. The Alinta study was a multi-million dollar, part government funded effort based in precisely the jurisdiction we were examining in depth, done in partnership with ARENA and the SA Government. That’s certainly the most relevant information for solar thermal in SA, you can’t beat that level of attention. There are many reasons why those IEA figures need to be treated as global signposts rather than local figures. They are US dollars just for a start. Simply applying the current exchange rate moves the 2015 average to $230. Which figures are best now? IEA or the coal company?

          • Matthew Wright

            Ben Heard, simple fact is that according to Nuclear proponents who are highly optimistic you couldn’t get a reactor delivering a kWh of energy until at least 2030. By that time we’ll have a market with substantial wind and solar that does not at all have a profile that works with nuclear plants. So it’s clearly not going to happen. I know if you live in South Australia you can get consultancies from the the nuclear industry or various suppliers to that industry – there isn’t much else around. But it doesn’t mean that we’re going to accept your blind faith.

            And not only that. Gen III+ reactors are only known for their delays. Finland, France…. None have ever delivered a single kWh of energy.

            And in Japan – more energy is consumed each day by nuclear power plants than exported – and that’s even after they’ve restarted a unit or two.

          • Ben Heard

            I don’t think there is any call to impugn my motives in such an unpleasant way. If you feel the need to resort to that, your must not feel very confident.

          • Matthew Wright

            Don’t worry I’m pretty confident. I’m reducing household energy use by 90% and creating solar houses that export 1000% of what they import and that’s with postive NPV for homeowners. Only a halving in the cost of solar and it is completely game over for nuclear. VERY CONFIDENT HERE!! 🙂

          • Concerned

            And lacking in basic economic theory no doubt.

          • Concerned

            Chines,Koreans and Japanese seem to be able to plan ,construct and commission reactors in around 4 years,.(the Japanese in less time)
            European construction suffers from one off projects which is a common problem in engineering and project management as most with any knowledge would be aware of..

          • Matthew Wright

            I don’t think Ben Heard is in a hurry to deliver an appropriate up-to-date source on Solar Thermal with storage as it would kill his blind faith in the narrative that nuclear is the answer.

          • Concerned

            Really?Suggest you read the papers published by David Mills,the doyen of solar thermal.
            It does mot work in winter,and therefore needs a collector field 4 times that of what is being built now.Totally out of reach.

          • Matthew Wright

            David Mills’ solar technology was a fail. It was called Compact Linear Fresnel and it’s performance in winter is pretty bad. I think I was saying that before you’d even heard of Solar Thermal. Molten Salt Power Towers are the go. They can be built to perform well in winter. Solar PV is so cheap now that houses will soon each be producing 32MWh from 110 soalr panels – cladding with solar. That’s 288TWh potential from Australia’s 7.5 million detached houses.

          • Concerned

            Nothing to do with the specific technology as you well know.We are aware of the technology regarding linear Fresnel,it limitations and advantages.(cost)
            More intellectual dishonesty.Same applies to the towers as shown with the readily available data from the Spanish installations.
            You need at least 4 times the collector area to avoid gas backup..
            Re PV,the same goes in winter.My figures over 5 years in Brisbane show dramatically reduced output in winter months.(apart from the very poor insolation lasting many days in a row)
            110 solar panels per house.? Are you all right? And all the output to be backed up by alternate generation.
            Basic economics,affordable.

          • Concerned


          • Matthew Wright

            Well if you were doing something productive then you could afford renewable energy. But instead you spend your day trolling.

          • Matthew Wright

            Intellectual Dishonesty??? hmmm what’s your name again?? How do we verify your research??? hmmm The rest of us have our numbers published rather than stalking forums

          • Concerned

            A conversation pointing out your inaccurate comments and opinions/assertion?Ta.

          • Matthew Wright

            Nothing shown to be inaccurate, just a bunch of assertions without any facts to back them up. Like many others in this space I’ve got publications to my name with facts and figures. I’m concerned on behalf of all the productive people out there that you’re just a troll that prevents people from getting on with putting their minds to solving problems.

          • Concerned

            Oh dear,having qualifications far beyond your remit,I find your “assertions”and “opinions” very funny.The abysmal understanding of economics is unbelievable.

          • Matthew Wright

            Concerned you’re a troll could be a 12 year old kid as far as anyone knows.

          • Concerned

            Dear,some years ago,you advised me you have a Cert IV and Diploma from Swinbourne.
            As part of the dialogue.
            On several occasions I emailed you my CV to your email address ,and you lied ,saying you never received same.You are totally dishonest.
            Name is Richard Simpson,dear.

          • Matthew Wright

            Oh you’re the 0H&S qualified guy who thinks he’s an expert in nuclear engineering. Got you. Yes you have fabricated various stories about me in your trolling I can concede that.

          • Concerned

            Yep,just finished post grad,Masters,Safety/engineering/Nuclear/ Critique of Ansto.

          • Matthew Wright

            You’ll hear about it shortly 🙂

          • Matthew Wright

            You hit the spot with that Giles – great work!!

  • Coley

    Nobody, except the Tory inner circle and their banker chums wants Hinckley. It’s the usual vested interests getting their claws into the public purse.

    • MaxG


  • MaxG

    Mind-boggling indeed. The public being shafted by their pollies. When will the people rise? I am glad having the age I’ve got… may well cark it before it all goes to hell.

    • Coley

      Same here, but I have bairns and grand bairns who are going to be seriously affected by this short term ‘vote for us’ crap.

  • onesecond

    Nuclear power plants deliver dumb inflexible baseload. That is why France has to import more electricity from Germany than the other way round and Germany is closing its nuclear fleet because it can’t adapt to the varying renewable power input. You can’t have both, nuclear and renewable energy and the nuclear industry knows that, that is why they are fighting renewables. From a system point of view, browncoal plants have to go next in Germany and backup will be provided by more flexible hard coal and gas plants. Going renewable means that you simply no langer have any demand for dumb inflexible baseload. The ever decreasing number of hours they run makes them uneconomical.

    • MaxG

      Also, they did not take into account the nuclear waste problem, which the UK public has also to pay for too. It also means, they need on-demand energy (mostly from of gas generators), and this approach does not go well renewables, which need more storage to cater for on-demand electricity.
      Interesting, the atom lobby seems to have won against the renewables. What a sad day in history.

      • Coley

        Not really, a bunch of Westminster loons have successfully ( at this point) moved a disastrous project a bit further along the road but as time goes by,the ludicrous costs and overruns will hopefully doom the project.

      • Asteroid Miner

        France already recycles spent nuclear fuel. In the 1960s, we in the US recycled spent nuclear fuel. We don’t recycle nuclear fuel now for two reasons:

        1. It is valuable and people steal it. The place it went that it wasn’t supposed to go to was Israel. This happened in a small town near Pittsburgh, PA circa 1970. A company called Numec was in the business of reprocessing nuclear fuel. [I almost took a job there in 1968, designing a nuclear battery for a heart pacemaker.]

        2. Virgin uranium is so cheap that it is cheaper than recycling. This will change eventually, which is why we keep the spent fuel where we can reach it. The US possesses a lot of MOX fuel made from the plutonium removed from bombs. MOX is essentially free fuel since it was paid for by the process of un-making bombs.

        Please read this Book: “Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011. You can download this book free from: Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, are former directors of the nuclear power research lab at Fermi Lab, which is the national laboratory near Chicago. It used to be called Argonne National Lab. Get another free book from:

        Per Till & Chang: The Integral Fast Reactor [IFR] uses “nuclear waste” as fuel and gets 100 times as much energy out of a pound of uranium as the Generation 2 reactors we are using now. The IFR is safer than the Generation 2 reactors, which are safer by far than coal. The IFR is commercially available from

        The IFR is meltdown-proof. The IFR can be turned up and down quickly and repeatably. The IFR uses metal fuel that is recycled in a system that makes it difficult to get plutonium239 out of the fuel. To make a good plutonium bomb, you must have almost pure plutonium239. 7% plutonium240 and higher isotopes or other actinides will spoil the bomb. IFR Pyro process recycled fuel is useless for bomb making.

        Elements with more protons than uranium are called trans-uranics alias actinides. Actinides are the part of so-called nuclear “waste” that makes it stay radioactive for a long time. The IFR uses up the actinides as fuel. Actinides include plutonium, neptunium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and all of the other “synthetic” elements.

        The IFR is the ideal source of electricity since it does not make CO2. The resultant “waste” is very small, will decay in only 300 years and is useful in medicine. The IFR is commercially available now. See:

        The following countries either already recycle spent fuel or are experimenting with a recycling process or both:

        France, Japan Russia, China, India, South Korea.

        The US recycled spent fuel in the 1960s.

        Purex process: The old one. Separates out plutonium, but does not separate the isotopes of plutonium. Any bomb made with this plutonium from a powerplant reactor would fizzle. You can’t make a plutonium bomb with more than 7% Pu240.

        Pyro process: Leaves plutonium mixed with uranium and trans-uranic elements. [All fissionable elements are kept together with uranium]

        Other processes [wet] are also under development.

        By recycling nuclear fuel, we have a 30,000 [thirty thousand] year supply.

      • Coley

        Look at the contamination both leaked into the pacific and that held in leaking tanks at Fukushima, if ‘externalities’ are really ever going to be loaded onto corporations liabilities, then the operators of Japan’s nuclear facilities are buggered beyond redemption.
        As would be most FF companies.

  • Malcolm M

    Where in Australia would be the most likely place for a nuclear power station to be viable (relative to other places ) ? To spread the management and compliance overheads, it would need to be at least 2 GW, which is the smallest size of most nuclear new builds in the world. This rules out South Australia, which only has ~1 GW of demand, and WA that only has ~2 GW of demand. It could only go to Vic, NSW or Qld,which each have 5-7 GW of demand, but because of current over-capacity and declining demand it would need to be in conjunction with the retirement of existing coal-fired plant. In each of these States a new nuclear power station would be difficult politically, and it would also need to compete against the relatively low costs of current coal-fired plant.

    • Coley


  • TimS

    We cannot afford anymore ecologically hypocritical means of energy production that butcher millions birds and bats, ruin natural landscapes, and that are more harmful to the environment than nuclear per gigawatt produced. We should afford nuclear power because it is statistically proven much more ecologically friendly than renewables.

  • Ian

    To be fair here, calculate the construction costs per Watt. Off shore wind is roughly €4/ W and would have a capacity factor of say 50% . This Nuclear power station is £7.5/W (€10.50/W) and would have a capacity factor of closer to 100%. Off Shore wind still comes out cheaper, but not by much. Wind is intermittant, nuclear is base load. Wind is distributed and scalable it’s not a very easy target, it is quickly implemented and leaves little residual end of life waste, nuclear is the exact opposite plus the long construction time of nuclear and the inevitable cost overruns must give any developer palpitations. One wonders why such a retrograde step. Is it the cronyism of frat boys riding each other’s goats or is there a more sane explanation?

    • Coley

      If there is a “sane expanation” it’s escaped most of the British public and even some right wing papers.

    • Coley

      Ah, just spotted that, missed the point there,you have goats and “frat boys” here, in the UK, we have undergraduates and pigs heads.

  • Alen T

    I simply cannot get my head around Hinkley C, the economics are so clearly and abundantly against it yet it is still proceeding…mind boggling indeed.

    This must have been how people outside Oz where looking at and viewing us while Tony “coal is good for humanity” was leading U.S.

    Again, I simply cannot understand it.

    • Coley

      Join the club;)

      • Concerned

        Quite usual with one off engineering projects,that are badly managed.Any series build would bring down costs.

        • Coley

          This is the third similar project is it not? One in France the other in Finland? Just how much taxpayers dosh should we give these people, before even their paid up politicians and ‘experts’ start squirming with embarrassment, or in a more satisfactory world we tote them off in tumbrils?
          Not to have their heads chopped off you understand, just to work for the minimum wage clearing up the mess left by Fukushima and Chernobyl.
          And on a slightly off topic note, the senior EXOs (and their paid up lobbyists) of the various FF polluters could be forewarned. of a similar fate, if they don’t fess up and make offers of appropriate compensation.
          Pie in the Sky, I hear you saying? Just look at what the banks and financial institutions are having to pay, and they aren’t accused of actually killing people.
          Yes, it’s a slightly more painful than the (joke settlement) of the Union Carbide disaster but it gives you an indication of the way public sentiment is moving.

          • Concerned

            What on earth are you talking about?

          • Coley

            Hinckley point,

  • Felix Erwin

    Fukushima Daichi has taught us nothing! What is the elevation of Hinkley Point? I would guess that a good tidal surge would take care of polluting the west of England and most of northern France. The way that the effects of AGW are accelerating we may see the plant under water before it is even completed. Seriously?

  • Asteroid Miner

    Wind and solar cannot coexist with nuclear. Wind and solar are so intermittent that they must be supplemented with a natural gas fired gas turbine.

    Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works.

    A Myth is Being Foisted on you:

    Fact: Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or more your electric bill. The reasons are as follows:

    Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either. Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines. The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

    We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

    The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled power plants with the newest available generation of nuclear; unless you live near Niagara Falls. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.

    MYTHS: The myths being perpetrated by wind turbine marketers are that:

    Wind and solar energy are free and will lower your electric bill


    Wind and solar energy are CO2 free and will reduce the total CO2 produced by electricity generation.


    Californians are paying twice as much for electricity as I am and Germans are paying 4 times as much as I am. The reason is renewables mandates. Illinois has 6 nuclear power plants and we are working hard to keep them. I am paying 7&1/2 cents /kilowatt hour. What are you paying?


    Californians and Germans are making more CO2 per kilowatt hour than Illinoisans. It turns out that even without burning natural gas or coal to make up for the intermittency of wind and solar, wind turbines and large scale solar collectors require more concrete and steel per kilowatt hour than nuclear power does.

    FALLACIES: The fallacies in the myth are failure to do the math and failure to do all of the engineering required. The myth is easy to propagate among most people because there is quite a lot of math to do and there is a lot of engineering to learn. University electrical engineering departments offer electrical engineering degrees with specialization in power transmission [electric grids]. That is only part of the engineering that needs to be done to figure the whole thing out.

    • Felix Erwin

      Thanks. But wind and solar are still an effective supplement for individual households/businesses, particularly grid-tie.

      Because of the extremely long lead time to build nuclear plants and the accelerating effects of AGW, we need a strategy that works in a less polluting way in the much shorter term. Surely anything is better than burning coal and the issues you raise are engineering problems, likely solvable in the time it takes to build a new nuclear reactor.

      • hydrophilia

        “Surely anything is better than burning coal”
        Nope: Rocky Mountain Institute has shown that building nuclear is far worse. According to them, we produce LESS CO2 if we replace a planned nuclear plant with a coal plant…. and put the savings into efficiency (negawatts).
        And no, neither they nor I am suggesting coal plants are good, just better than nuclear ones.

        • Coley

          Had to read that twice, and can vaguely understand the reasoning, but a link would be helpful;)

          • hydrophilia

            Can’t find him mentioning the coal plant, but I recall it as “Nukes are so much more expensive than other options for displacing fossil fuel that we COULD actually do better by cancelling a nuke, building a coal plant, and using the rest of the savings for wind, combined cycle power pants, PV, and efficiency.”

            Here is at least one link to a similar statement… but excluding the coal plant bit:

          • Coley

            Thanks, a bit dated but relevant, bloke was well ahead of the times.

          • Jan Veselý

            A mind experiment: You want to remove an antique 25% efficiency coal plant. Three options:
            1) You build nuclear power plant. You spend 5 years planning and permitting, 10 years building and 5 years to learn how to properly operate it. (I’m optimist). So, the old power plant still spews megatons of CO2, for next 15-20 years.
            2) You build modern fast ramping supercritical coal plant having 45% efficiency in about 7 years (German practice including court fights with Greenees) and meanwhile you spent huge amount of saved money to lower the demand (and new coal plant may be smaller). You are saving CO2 from day 1, after 7 years it jumps down to about, say, 30% of original value. And also coal plants are suitable for CHP offseting huge chunks of heating fuels.
            3) You invest into wind and solar and ramp up capacity continuously and you end up with that old coal plant running just 20-30% of time and you still have some money left and cash flow from finished plants to invest in energy storage, demand response, etc. to further lower usage of old coal to say last 5% of deep backup.

      • Coley

        The nuclear lobby keeps on about what’s just around the corner, thorium, cold fusion etc but if we wait for them the planets going to be knackered.
        Use what’s tried and tested and available today,wind, solar and hydro, and hopefully in the near future tidal.
        Fine, if in 30/40 years there is a safe nuclear solution, then the wind farms and solar arrays will go the way of coal mines and FF power stations.
        But in the meantime grab the proven solutions with both hands.

    • “Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time,”

      It is clear you do not know what capacity factor means. Hint:A capacity factor of x% does not mean it is working x% of the time.

      Wind power works 100% of the time, at a variable output. Solar works 50% of the time at a variable rate, and peaks during the time that demand peaks too. Ideal combination.

      “Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to
      build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast,”

      They are not. The thing that electric companies are more anxious about and keep spinning reserves for is large power plants tripping and hundreds of MW’s are gone from the grid from one second to the next. The intermittency you are crying about is a fallacy of your mind, it is non-existent. Solar and wind have a variability with a relative slow ramp up and down that can quite easily be followed. If you really want to know how the variability looks in real life, look at these graph from RED, the Spanish grid operator.

      “The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough”

      Modern CCGT’s that are run at half power only lose a small fraction of their efficiency. A study ( calculated the loss in CO2 reductions on the Italian grid from solar and wind due to more ramping up and down of fossil generators at 4 – 5 percent. Is that really worth getting so excited about?

      “We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth
      out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy
      storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for
      the US”

      Do you know how much a quadrillion is? Is it more if you write it in all caps? Can you show me the calculation that led to this number?

      • John P

        A couple of additional thoughts.
        Hinkley C and any similar plants represent the thinking of a past era. Centralised power distribution technologies are no longer required, and neither is their cost. The cost of doing Hinkley is beyond belief. There must be something dodgy about it. The ‘rooftop solar’ phenomenon tells us all we need to know about how to power up the future.
        By way of example, we have been livng “off the grid” for well over 20 years. We have never had a power drop out and have saved a small fortune. We live in a zero emissions house very comfortably. Individual ‘off grid’ homes are common enough and it is easy to see how micro grids or mini grids would suit a range of local conditions.

    • Coley

      Wind and solar can “co-exist” with nuclear, in fact it could be the dream model of the green renewable mix.
      Once the nuclear industry can produce a safe, affordable reactor without the need for a massive centralised grid.
      Let’s know when one appears on the horizon;)

    • Felix Erwin

      On second thought, and considering the other input, this reasoning is C20 quagmire, based on ulimited resources without consequence. What we need is C21 science; a distributed and augmented power model.

      Right now the burning of fossil fuels is stealing from our future and that of our children. Corporate profits (shareholder value) come from raping the Earth, justified by nothing more than arrogance and lazyness in perpetuating BAU and the fallacious notion of unlimited growth.

      Pollution of the atmosphere is at the expense of the indigenous people around the world who have absolutely no say. Carbon pollution is like second-hand smoke except there is no walking out of the room, and every day we destroy a little more of what could have been. Time for action – time to divest!

  • Robert Comerford

    When the Tsunami hits this one, what happens??
    This looks to be big business out to get taxpayer subsidies once again and then feed some of it back to the greasy palms of politicians. I’m not against nuclear, just don’t see this as a sensible idea. Also, pressurised reactors should be a thing of the past. Technology such as a liquid sodium reactor is inherently safer and turns most of the waste from old reactors into energy. Use physics rather than concrete for safety.

    • Coley

      Aye, I’m all for wind and solar, hydro and tidal, (deep reservations re; biomass) but if the nuclear industry tipped up with an affordable, non centralised and safe alternative to conventional renewables then I’d support it.
      Trouble is that option is nowhere near feasible, but the Nuclear lobby seems hell bent on attacking cheap, available renewables until it is, which in all honesty could be never!
      Meanwhile the FF lobby use this distraction to further their ‘ business as usual’ model to the detriment of us all.

  • Rob G

    What can you expect from a right wing government.