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UK government intransigent – pursues Hinkley nuclear project despite rise of much cheaper offshore wind energy

Cheap Offshore Wind Won’t Make UK Give Up on Nuclear, Nukes to play “an important role for many years to come,” says the government. Greentech Media, by Jason Deign  September 29, 2017 A pricing record for offshore wind this month won’t change Britain’s nuclear plans, government sources confirmed.

“We need a diverse energy mix to ensure that demand for energy can always be met, and both nuclear and renewables will play an important role in this for many years to come,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said.

The statement follows widespread speculation about the future of the U.K.’s new nuclear program in the wake of an auction that saw offshore wind prices drop to just £57.50 (USD $76.34) per megawatt-hour.

That’s almost 38 percent below what the U.K. government has agreed to pay for nuclear generation at Hinkley Point C, a contentious 3.2-gigawatt plant slated for construction in Somerset, southwest England.

The project, which has already been criticized for increasing costs, was called into question after the renewables auction result, which awarded 11 competitive projects that ranged from offshore wind to waste-to-energy conversion.

As renewable energy becomes more affordable, the government’s decision on the new nuclear project may come under additional scrutiny,” Bloomberg reported.

Since Hinkley Point C was approved in September 2015, developer Électricité de France has increased the cost estimate for the project from £18 billion ($24 billion) to more than £20 billion ($27 billion), said Bloomberg.

In contrast, said Giles Dickson, CEO of industry body WindEurope: “Offshore wind has now shown it provides excellent value for taxpayers’ money.”

“In light of these latest price reductions, we call on the U.K. and other European governments to make ambitious commitments on future deployment volumes for offshore wind. To sustain these cost reductions, the industry needs to be able to plan ahead,” said Dickson.

Caught off-guard by the auction result, the nuclear industry hit back against the narrative…….

It remains to be seen whether Hinkley Point C will make it into that [energy] mix. The project, based on a French design which has seen cost and schedule overruns in France and Finland, has been beset by other problems.

This month, workers threatened to walk out over a pay dispute. And the BBC slammed plans to dump potentially radioactive waste from dredging works near Hinkley Point’s two existing reactors. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/cheap-offshore-wind-wont-make-uk-give-up-on-nuclear#gs.ThDT6VE

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September 30, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, politics, UK

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