Hinkley Point nuclear plant gets UK govt nod

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After turning its back on solar, the UK government has put its eggs in the nuclear basket, approving two new reactors – a $A31.7bn project.

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The Hinkley Point C project, which was originally proposed in 2006, has become increasing controversial over the last ten years, in the face of escalating costs, extended deadlines, fears over the ownership of the project, as well as investment in nuclear to secure the country’s energy futureRead more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/uk-government-gives-go-ahead-to-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant_100026115/#ixzz4KN3dqeeb
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PV Magazine

Theresa May’s new government has finally made up its mind about the controversial new nuclear plant being financed by the French and the Chinese, which has faced sharp criticism for its escalating costs and for the implications of foreign ownership of critical UK infrastructure.

The Hinkley Point C project, which was originally proposed in 2006, has become increasing controversial over the last ten years, in the face of escalating costs, extended deadlines, fears over the ownership of the project, as well as investment in nuclear to secure the country’s energy future Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/uk-government-gives-go-ahead-to-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant_100026115/#ixzz4KN3dqeeb
The Hinkley Point C project, which was originally proposed in 2006, has become increasing controversial over the last ten years, in the face of escalating costs, extended deadlines, fears over the ownership of the project, as well as investment in nuclear to secure the country’s energy future.

After turning its back on solar, it looks like the UK government has decided to put its energy eggs in the nuclear basket, with the decision to approve the development of two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C. The Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy confirmed its approval on Thursday, while also taking the decision to change the legal framework for future energy projects, to limit foreign ownership.

The mega project, which will not be producing power until at least 2025, is going to cost a mind spinning £18 billion ($US23.8 billion) to complete, however it will be financed by French state utility EDF, and by the Chinese government. EDF is fronting £12 billion, while the Chinese are putting forward the additional £6 billion.

“After Hinkley, the British government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects,” said the government, on the defensive after the project faced criticism over its foreign ownership. “This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government’s knowledge or consent.”

“What we have done here in Hinkley is require that EDF, the principal operator guarantees – makes a commitment – that they won’t dispose of their stake without the government’s consent unless and until the plant is built,” added Energy Secretary Greg Clark.

The plant, which will be built in Somerset in the south-west of England, was given approval by EDF in July, who will sell the energy that is produced to the UK for £92.50 per MWh. It is the first new nuclear reactor to be built in the country in 20 years.

A project with baggage

The Hinkley Point C project, which was originally proposed in 2006, has become increasing controversial over the last ten years, in the face of escalating costs, extended deadlines, fears over the ownership of the project, as well as investment in nuclear to secure the country’s energy future. Most recently, there had been a pause in the government’s decision-making process upon the project, leading to hopes that alternatives might be being considered.

“This is what being painted into a corner feels like,” commented David Elmes, Head of Global Energy Research at Warwick Business School. “After a surprise delay by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, the UK Government’s confirmation of the deal to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point locks U.K. bill payers into an expensive source of energy for decades to come. The price UK bill payers are committing to through the government is now double and the start date has slipped at least 8 years.”

“This is a very expensive project,” Leonie Greene, head of external affairs for the Solar Trade Association told pv magazine. “It’s a great shame that there didn’t seem to be engagement during ‘the pause’ with modern alternative; namely smart power which the Government’s National Infrastructure Commission estimates could save consumers billions by 2030. We keep hearing from this government that cost to bill payers is a key concern, but they keep marginalizing the cheapest solutions.”

A costly decision to ignore solar PV

This sentiment was echoed in a recent study by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), which found that for the same projected costs to the UK public (£29.7 billion) over the course of the project’s lifetime, 23 GW of solar PV could be installed for half the price. However, instead of supporting solar PV, the government has recently slashed subsidies to the clean energy solution and changed its policy framework to the disadvantage of solar.

“What is extraordinary is that just as this extremely expensive project is being given the go-ahead solar power is facing unfair tax hikes that put solar and distributed power at a competitive disadvantage,” Greene continued. “If the U.K. wants to own the future it needs to back solar technology – there is a clear consensus amongst analysts and the energy sector that solar has a central, if not the biggest, role.”

And this trend does not just apply to solar, but to almost all renewable energies, making the government’s choice look all the more nonsensical. “Renewables such as solar, onshore wind and biomass are already cheaper than nuclear, are quicker to deploy, and have none of the construction or economic risk,” said Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of REA. Our analysis shows that for nearly every renewable technology the equivalent amount of capacity could be procured at much lower cost using renewables.”

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.

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8 Comments
  1. solarguy 3 years ago

    Mad dogs and Englishmen!

  2. john 3 years ago

    The outcome is just exactly what price of the power £92.50 per MWh
    What is the provision for clean up?
    That price is 9.35 Cents per KwH.
    With England being so far north of the main area where sun is available it is hard to see how that can contribute other in a few months over summer as an alternative, however wind power that is a whole different story 24-7 it blows somewhere look at it and use it.

  3. Alex 3 years ago

    The only possible explanation for this decision is corruption. The companies making the plant have a lot of money riding on it, but the government should be listening to the population and taking care of their constituents’ interests. This seems like a common theme. There must be some playbook for subverting democracy that Big Energy companies have access to, because it sure as hell looks as if they are using it to great effect in Australia too.

    • Mike Dill 3 years ago

      The UK has decided to keep its nuclear submarines, and needs to keep the flow of nuclear fuel available along with the skills and knowledge required to run those submarines. While this as an energy fail, it is a decision driven by defense needs.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        They still have reactors for that, if they actually need them for sub fuel?

  4. Mark Diesendorf 3 years ago

    The author has actually understated the huge costs. The guaranteed price of electricity of £92.50 per MWh is in 2012 pounds sterling and will be escalated with inflation for 35 years of operation. It is more than double the current average wholesale price of electricity in the UK.

    The capital cost quoted of £18 billion does not include interest during construction, which would add several billion pounds more. In addition, there is a loan guarantee of £2 billion.

    • Robert Parker 3 years ago

      And the point is? If you have a guaranteed electricity supply cost of what relevance is the construction cost?
      This really is excellent news for effective action on global warming and it looks like the UK has sat Germany well on truly on its arse.

  5. George Darroch 3 years ago

    This project will be a very good lesson to future generations.

Comments are closed.

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