According to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), energy efficiency improvements to home heating, insulation, lighting and appliances could reduce the energy consumed in UK households each year by the equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations the size of Hinkley Point C, saving consumers £270 off the average household energy bill of £1,100. (1) In fact, when the UK government first endorsed Hinkley Point C, (HPC) it was projecting an increase in electricity consumption of 15% by now, whereas in practice the UK is consuming 15% less than a decade ago. In other words Government projections were out by 30 %. (2)
The price of £57.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) unveiled recently for two giant wind projects, off the coast of the UK is almost half the level expected to be paid for electicity generated by Hinkley Point C – £92.50/MWh at 2012 prices (which by now will be around £100/MWh). What is more the offshore wind payments only continue for 15 years compared with nuclear payments which continue for 35 years.
According to the Daily Telegraph Britain could theoretically produce up to 595GW from offshore wind at competitive cost, an order of magnitude more than Britain’s entire power needs, even at peak times in the dead of winter (53GW). Some excess power could be sold to Europe through interconnectors, and some could be turned into hydrogen through electrolysis and used to replace fossil gas. (3)
Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming so cheap that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) outlook. (4) According to the 100% renewable utility, Good Energy, the wholesale price of electricity in the UK is falling, mainly due to the rise in solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind power. (5) Emeritus Professor Keith Barnham says if renewable expansion had continued at the same rate it did between 2010 and 2015 we could have achieved an all-renewable UK electricity supply by 2025.Why cull such popular and successful industries? The UK has more than 32GW of renewable power, 10 times the power the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant may achieve in 2030. Hinkley’s power is not only almost irrelevant; its inflexible nature will make it redundant. Once operating, a nuclear reactor should run with constant output, 24/7, month to month, but power that complements wind and PV has to vary in less than one hour. What the UK needs is flexible, not continuous baseload power generation to back up wind and photovoltaic (PV) power. (6)
Clearly, the electricity which Hinkley Point C is expected to generate could be replaced by energy efficiency measures or renewable energy systems more cheaply, more quickly and without radioactive discharges to the environment or the generation of radioactive waste. The risk that the UK and European public will be subjected to by the construction of Hinkley Point C can, therefore, no longer be justified.
(1) UK Energy Research Centre 6th Sept 2017
(2) Guardian 5th July 2017
(3) Telegraph 13th September 2017
(4) Bloomberg 15th June 2017
(5) Good Energy, “Wind and solar reducing consumer bills: an investigation into the merit order effect”, (2015)
(6) Guardian 10th May 2017