No Need for New Nukes

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been consulting on proposals for a new National Policy Statement (NPS) for nuclear power above 1GW single reactor capacity for deployment between 2026 and the end of 2035. National Policy Statements (NPS) are intended to establish the case for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, as defined in the Planning Act 2008. The current nuclear NPS (EN-6), published in 2011, lists 8 sites as potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by the end of 2025 (Hinkley Point C, Wylfa, Moorside, Sizewell, Bradwell, Oldbury, Hartlepool and Heysham).

The Minister for Energy and Industry admits that the new nuclear programme has taken a long time to progress so he says it is now necessary to designate a new nuclear NPS. In July 2017, EDF Energy revealed that Hinkley Point C is likely to be delayed by 15 months to 2027 (1). More recently the former energy secretary, Sir Edward Davey, who signed off on Hinkley Point C has cast doubt on whether the project will ever get built at all, let alone by 2027. (2)

So, it’s now almost certain that no new nuclear power stations will be operational on any of the sites designated in the current NPS by 2025. Horizon Nuclear says it is aiming to generate the first electricity from Wylfa Newydd in the mid-2020s. (3) But it has yet to reach a deal on financing the reactors with the Government. (4) NuGen, which is planning to build new reactors at Moorside, near Sellafield, has said they will not be up and running by 2025 either. (5) Horizon says it’s unlikely that construction would even start at Oldbury until the late 2020s at the earliest. (6) Sizewell C is not expected to begin generating electricity until 2031 (7) and there is currently no overall defined timeline for the Bradwell B project. (8) No proposals have been put forward for Hartlepool or Heysham.

Instead of admitting that its new nuclear programme has been a failure, and that by the time any of the proposed reactors come on line nuclear power will be obsolete (9) the proposed new NPS simply carries forward the designated sites from the current NPS, and suggests that new sites may be designated in the 2020s.

Taken together with the overarching NPS for Energy (EN1), the Government says the current nuclear NPS sets out the need for nuclear power. Yet when the Government first endorsed Hinkley Point C, (HPC) it was projecting an increase in electricity consumption of 15% by now, whereas in practice we are consuming 15% less than a decade ago. (In 2005 it was 29,981 ktoe. By 2015 it had fallen to 26,031 ktoe –a 15.2% decrease.) In other words it made a 30% error. This is despite a 13% increase in GDP over the last decade. HPC is only due to deliver 7% of consumption. So, in fact, there is no “need” for new nuclear power stations before or after 2025. (10)

The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Response to the consultation is available here:

The Stop Hinkley Campaign Response is here: StopHinkley_NPS_Response[1]

The Together Against Sizewell C response is here:

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Briefing on the consultation is here:

Notes

(1) BBC 3rd July 2017

(2) Sir Ed Davey: ‘There are doubts about whether Hinkley will ever get built’ Unearthed 15th December 2017.

(3) Horizon Nuclear website (accessed 2nd January 2018)

(4) Collingridge, J. Hitachi boss Hiraoki Nakanishi ups the ante over £10bn Wales nuclear site, Sunday Times 10th December 2017 

(5) Cumbrian nuclear plant set to be delayed, Whitehaven News 3rd October 2017.

(6) Horizon Nuclear website (accessed 2nd Jan 2018)

(7) Brodie, D Sizewell C nuclear power station could become operational in 2031, says head of EDF Energy, East Anglian Daily Times 30th October 2017.

(8) Bradwell B Project website (accessed 2nd January 2018) https://bradwellb.co.uk/faqs/

(9). Vidal, J. Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution, Guardian 27th August 2014 See also Green World 27th August 2014 

(10) Letter from Andrew Warren, Chair of the British Energy Efficiency Federation, Guardian 5th July 2017 

For more information on the need for nuclear power on energy efficiency watch Andrew Warren speaking at the CND Conference “No Need for Nuclear” in June 2017

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Published: 23 March 2018
Last updated: 26 March 2018