A Costly Nuclear Legacy

Why Hinkley Point C is such a bad deal

By Good Energy,

Last week the National Audit Office (NAO), the independent organisation charged with holding Government spending to account, published a scathing report on the decision to invest in a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The report labels the agreement to build the new nuclear project – known as Hinkley Point C – as a bad deal that “locks consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain benefits”.

Nuclear: High Cost & High Risk 

In September 2016, the Government concluded negotiations with the French-owned EDF and Chinese-owned CGN to build the first new nuclear power station in Great Britain since 1995. Hinkley Point C will cost consumers approximately £30billion and will meet approximately 7% of Britain’s electricity needs. 

Of course, it’s very hard for the average person to get a handle on what that means in terms of value for money. Fortunately however, the NAO has done exactly that in its report; they revisited the Government’s decision on Hinkley Point C to take a fresh look at all the evidence and assess the merits of the deal.

The NAO examined the criteria that the Government used to make its decision, and found that in terms of value for money, the case for Hinkley Point C is "marginal, and subject to significant uncertainty". The days of the nuclear industry claiming that power from a nuclear power station would be "too cheap to meter" are long forgotten. Sir Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, expressed this very candidly, saying that the Government has "committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy market place…"

You need only look at other similar projects around the world to understand exactly how risky Hinkley Point C really is. At the time of writing, there are no functioning power stations with the same reactor design as that planned to be used at Hinkley. There are four other plants around the world currently being built with the same reactor design as Hinkley Point C – but all of them have been plagued with problems. The Flamanville plant in France is currently six years late and three times over budget, the Olkiluoto plant in Finland is currently nine years overdue and 60% over budget, and two plants in China are both expected to be at least two years behind schedule. With reports over the weekend that sources within EDF are suggesting that Hinkley Point C may also be late and over-budget, the case is mounting that Hinkley Point C is a risky gamble at the expense of British bill-payers.

Renewables: Getting cheaper, and fast!

This is all a world away from what is happening in renewables. The cost of renewables is plummeting, with figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency showing that onshore wind costs have fallen by two-thirds since the early 80s, and the cost of solar has more than halved in just five years between 2010 to 2015. In the UK in 2016, 24% of electricity was generated by renewables, and in April 2017 renewables were instrumental in delivering the first day without coal since the industrial revolution.

This was a real landmark day and shows how renewables are already delivering low-cost, zero-carbon, home-grown, local power to our homes and businesses. The new world is built bottom up, which many small sources of generation supplying power to where it’s needed, which is why Good Energy partners with 1,400 small-scale independent generators and supports over 100,000 Feed-in-Tariff customers.

A renewable future 

Hinkley Point C isn’t the whole nuclear story however – there are other proposed nuclear developments in Britain, but none of them would deliver the same benefits to society that renewables do. Take a look at why we don’t think nuclear power belongs in the UK’s energy future. 

Good Energy is dedicated to combating climate change, and we believe the best way to do that is to support both established renewable technologies and innovative new projects like the forthcoming tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. It’s time to bid goodbye to costly, risky nuclear projects, and embrace the 100% renewable future that awaits us. 

There’s never been a better time to join the transition to a renewable future – switch to Good Energy today.