Britain could save up to £40 billion in energy bills if the plans to build new nuclear facilities at Hinkley Point C are scrapped and substituted with renewable alternatives like wind and solar, a new report has stated.
Analysis carried out by the Intergenerational Foundation think tank compared the potential cost of the new plant to onshore wind and solar photovoltaic energy (PV), concluding that both renewable technologies offer better value-for-money for taxpayers. It also outlined that a combination of solar, wind, tidal, and rooftop solar-PV models could counter the sporadic nature of the natural sources to produce reliable and consistent energy output.
The deal with French owned EDF involves the UK government committing £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for its electricity output, which is more than twice the current wholesale price, meanwhile the cost of powering the plant over that period will amount to £30–40 billion. With official figures indicating that almost a quarter (24.7%) of the UK’s electricity is generated from renewable energy, the think tank has accused the government of encumbering future generations with unknown and escalating burdens of cost and risk, as well as waste management, while it cuts subsidies for both solar and wind power.
“The government’s current plans for new nuclear power will break spending records, and pass both high costs and large, unknown economic risks onto every UK child for generations to come,” said Andrew Simms, report author. “Readily available, cheaper, safer and quicker renewable energy options would help Britain live both within its economic and environmental means, while also protecting and providing for future generations.”
The proposed plant will cost £24.5 billion to build, making it the most expensive building in the world, according to the report. A final investment decision by EDF on the development is expected in May. In a statement, the chief executive of EDF, Vincent de Rivaz said: “EDF is therefore ready to go ahead with the next phase of this huge undertaking as soon as the final investment decision triggers it. This project will go ahead and the investment decision will be made very soon.
“EDF is fully confident that it will deliver this project on time and on budget, thanks to the intense preparation of our committed and accountable engineering teams, the involvement of our supply chain, the experience gained from other projects and the unwavering engagement of many stakeholders, locally and nationally. Hinkley Point C will be operational in 2025.”
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change nuclear is a superior option to intermittent energy and it will secure thousands of jobs and benefit companies in the supply chain.
A DECC spokesperson told PE that: "There are significant challenges in developing the very large quantities of additional onshore wind and large-scale solar PV that would be required to replace the electricity generated from Hinkley Point C, due to constraints in connecting to the grid and getting planning consent.
“We don’t recognise the figures presented in the report for the Intergenerational Foundation. Hinkley Point C is a good deal for consumers and, once operational will provide 60 years of secure, reliable and low-carbon electricity for the cost of 35. This will help us to keep the lights on while meeting our emissions targets in the most cost-effective way.”
Angus Hanton, Intergenerational Foundation co-founder insisted that “cheaper, safer and quicker energy options exist, which represent better value-for-money for current taxpayers while also laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future for our children and grandchildren".