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Hinkley Point C – “risky and poor value for money” – House of Lords Committee

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantNo2Nuclear Power nuClear news No.93, March 2017

The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is risky and poor value for money, according to a House of Lords committee that urged the government to set out a “plan B” in case the £18 billion project is not built on time. (1)

In a damning report on energy policy, the Lords economic affairs committee said that household energy bills had already soared by 58% since 2003 and the risk of blackouts had increased, in part due to “poorly designed government interventions, in pursuit of decarbonisation”. Ministers should abandon plans to award subsidies to future nuclear plants through bilateral deals like that given to Hinkley, the committee said. Instead such projects should be forced to compete against wind farms, solar power farms and gas-fired power stations to find the cheapest way of keeping the lights on and cutting emissions. The committee said that the government should ensure that “the security of the UK’s energy supply is the priority of its energy policy” and suggested that climate change targets be “managed flexibly”. Lord Hollick, the committee’s chairman, highlighted Hinkley – which was signed off by Theresa May in September – as “a good example of the way policy has become unbalanced and affordability neglected”, and described it as “very, very expensive”. (2)

The total cost to consumers for Hinkley Point C is estimated to be £30bn. The committee called for an independent Energy Commission to advise Government on how to achieve an optimum balance of its three key objectives to keep the lights on at low cost while cutting carbon. “It would not be entirely different to the role that the OBR plays with regards to the Treasury. What it would do is provide a degree of transparency, not only for the Government itself to make its decisions but for industry and observers and analysts so that there is a greater degree of accountability as opposed to confusion,” he said. (3)

On the other hand the report was slammed by some environmentalists and renewable energy advocates for calling for decarbonisation to be relegated in favour of security of affordable supply. Critics said its conclusions were ‘out of touch’ and ‘backward-looking’. The report was accused of arguing that generation of electricity from fossil fuels is cheaper than renewable sources and that subsidies provided to clean energy generation have resulted in considerably higher costs for consumers……..

March 4, 2017 - Posted by | politics, UK

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