Over the last year a series of reports from financial and energy analysts have concluded that, amongst other things, conventional utility models are no longer fit for purpose. The reports highlight the changes to the old centralised utility model which are on the horizon and the importance of new technologies. They suggest that decentralised energy supply will be increasingly important in the future. The latest issue of NuClear News (No.68 November 2014) looks at a selection of these reports.
Not surprising then that there was widespread disbelief when the European Commission approved subsidies of up to £17.6 billion to EDF Energy to build two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Allan Jeffery said:
“This deal is clearly illegal under European law; it will saddle UK consumers with the bill for paying huge subsidies for decades, and yet there are more cost effective and safer ways of providing low carbon electricity or not using the energy in the first place. It is mind boggling how the UK government managed to convince the Commissioners to go along with this crazy plan without even the pretence of a competitive process. The technology proposed for Hinkley Point C is well past its sell-by-date. It’s time for Somerset to look to the future and develop a locally-controlled sustainable energy industry which doesn’t involve leaving a toxic legacy for our grandchildren’s children and which can tackle climate change and fuel poverty in a much more cost effective way.”
Cambridge nuclear engineer, Tony Roulstone, says the EPR design is complex and extraordinarily difficult to build – perhaps even ‘unconstructable’. Areva is no longer actively selling power stations of this type. In those countries still looking to expand nuclear power, such as Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey, Areva is now pushing an alternative reactor. In China, where several EPRs are currently being constructed, the authorities have indicated that they will not use the design for future power plants. In other words, the Hinkley design is already regarded as a failure by those with most knowledge of it. In Finland and in Normandy, where the EPR is already under construction, delays of several years and enormous cost overruns are crippling the projects. By focussing on the increasingly unpopular EPR design, Britain may have saddled itself with an unmanageable and hugely expensive construction project that will sour the prospects for all other nuclear technologies for another generation.