“Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant”

This is a VERY long article, but well worth reading.

Our LEP is throwing all OUR eggs into this disgraceful basket, decorated with white elephants by French and Chinese companies. But, at least those members of the LEP with nuclear, construction industry and recruitment and training of those servicing our nuclear warheads will be happy!

Just a flavour of the article:

“… But the irony of Hinkley Point C is that by the time it eventually starts working, it may have become obsolete. Nuclear power is facing existential problems around the world, as the cost of renewable energies fall and their popularity grows. “The maths doesn’t work,” says Tom Burke, former environmental policy adviser to BP and visiting professor at both Imperial and University Colleges. “Nuclear simply doesn’t make sense any more.”

The story of Hinkley Point C is that of a chain of decisions, taken by dozens of people over almost four decades, which might have made sense in isolation, but today result in an almost unfathomable scramble of policies and ambitions. Promises have been made and broken, policies have been adopted then dropped then adopted again. The one thing that has been consistent is the projected cost, which has rocketed ever upwards. But if so many people have come to believe that Hinkley Point C is fundamentally flawed, the question remains: how did we get to this point, where billions of pounds have been sunk into a project that seems less and less appealing with every year that passes? …”

…”Andrew Stirling believes that there was a crucial, largely unspoken, reason for the government’s rediscovered passion for nuclear: without a civil nuclear industry, a nation cannot sustain military nuclear capabilities. In other words, no new nuclear power plants would spell the end of Trident. “The only countries in the world that are currently looking at large-scale civil power newbuild programmes are countries that have nuclear submarines, or have an expressed aim of acquiring them,” Stirling told me.

Building nuclear submarines is a ferociously complicated business. It requires the kind of institutional memory and technical expertise that can easily disappear without practice. This, in theory, is where the civil nuclear industry comes in. If new nuclear power plants are being built, then the skills and capacity required by the military will be maintained. “It looks to be the case that the government is knowingly engineering an environment in which electricity consumers cross-subsidise this branch of military security,” Stirling told me. …”

“… Given its commitment to building Hinkley Point C, the government had no choice but to make EDF an offer that was too good to resist. It offered to guarantee EDF a fixed price for each unit of energy produced at Hinkley for its first 35 years of operation. In 2012, the guaranteed price – known as the “strike price” – was set at £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh), which would then rise with inflation. (One Mwh is roughly equivalent to the electricity used by around 330 homes in one hour.)

This means that if the wholesale price of electricity across the country falls below £92.50, EDF will receive an extra payment from the consumer as a “top-up” to fill the gap. This will be added to electricity bills around the country – even if you aren’t receiving electricity from Hinkley Point C, you will still be making a payment to EDF. The current wholesale price is around £40 per Mwh. If there had been no inflation since 2012, the consumer would be paying an EDF tax of around £52.50 per Mwh produced at Hinkley. However, because it is linked to inflation, the strike price has already risen since 2012. (The price will be reduced by £3 if EDF develops another new reactor in Sizewell in Suffolk, as it is planning to do.) …”

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/21/hinkley-point-c-dreadful-deal-behind-worlds-most-expensive-power-plant

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