The future of the Government’s plans to roll out six new nuclear power stations across Britain is looking increasingly parlous, as the Wylfa project becomes the second power station to be scrapped in just two months. Wylfa’s demise makes the Oldbury project extremely unlikely to proceed, while Toshiba has already backed out of developing its Moorside station. These three power stations would have generated 73 TWh of low carbon power per year, or 15% of current demand. Their absence leaves space for new low-carbon capacity to fill the gap. Filling the ‘nuclear gap’ with alternative low-carbon power sources would keep bills down, maintain secure energy supply and allow the UK to maintain progress towards legally binding climate targets. A representative scenario, in which 80% of the energy output of Moorside, Wylfa and Sizewell C was replaced in equal measure by onshore and offshore wind, with the remaining 20% by solar PV would entail an average price of £50-65/MWh, including the cost of system balancing. This is 13-33% cheaper than the cost of energy from nuclear (not accounting for nuclear system costs). This would see an additional 11.3 GW of onshore wind and 5.7 GW of offshore wind capacity, as well as 20.8 GW of new solar PV capacity. Renewable capacity is already set to increase on current levels, as more – and cheaper – capacity continues to come online.
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