It might seem strange for us to focus on Hinkley Point in Somerset for our front page story, but what happens at Hinkley will almost certainly have a direct impact on what happens at the nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk in the years to come.
This Campaign has always maintained that a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK, including the proposed Sizewell C, is completely untenable and with all that is happening at Hinkley Point, it now seems to be increasingly the case.
The new nuclear power station: Hinkley Point C, is now subject to a ‘full review’ following a statement from its developer Électricité de France (EdF) that it expects the project to be years late and billions of Euros over budget. The anticipated completion date has already been extended from 2025 to 2027, and the cost, shared with China State Nuclear Company (CGN), is already likely to increase by up to 3bn Euros. The latest forecasts reveal that Hinkley Point C could cost energy bill payers in the UK £50bn over the life of the project, compared to the original estimate in 2013, of £6bn.
The National Audit Office in the UK has labelled the HInkley plans as ‘risky and expensive’ and it has urged the Government to have an alternative plan in place in case the project is delayed or cancelled. This at a time when offshore wind power will be up to 50% cheaper than nuclear, and certainly far safer and far better for the environment. Technological advances, including larger more efficient turbines and economies of scale in manufacturing, have resulted in the cost of offshore wind power tumbling to an all-time low. It is anticipated that the guaranteed price is expected to be so low, that it could be free of subsidy altogether.
Millions is now being invested in battery power, which is making wind and solar energy storage a reality across the world. Technological advances have resulted in production being doubled in Western Europe, paving the way for a green energy revolution that will consign nuclear power to the economic and environmental scrapheap.
In France, the home of EdF, Nicolas Hulot, the Minister for ecological change, ordered the company to ‘scale down its production’ and said that up to seventeen of EdF’s reactors would have to be closed down over the next eight years under the French Government’s plan to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear power. Ironically, during that very same period, the UK will be expecting to open its new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point.
The UK Government is not only completely out of touch with what is happening in the global energy market, but it is also threatening the economy of the UK and paying reckless regard to the financial and environmental burden that is being created for many generations to come.