The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes two different reports that again emphasise the woes that are engulfing the private companies trying to deliver new nuclear power stations in England and Wales. NFLA reiterate that an alternative energy policy focused on a wide renewable energy mix and decentralised energy led by local authorities and energy cooperatives would be a sensible and effective way forward.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on government energy policies found them to be badly designed by successive administrations. They had not only neglected the excessive financial costs to consumers, but had failed to ensure the UK has a secure future energy supply that will ‘keep the lights on’.
The Committee particularly focused on the Hinkley Point C deal between the UK Government and EDF Energy as the most obvious example of an ‘unbalanced’ scheme that paid little attention to value for money. The Committee called on the Government to set out how capacity from the nuclear power station will be replaced if the project does not come in on time, amid real concerns over long delays.
NFLA supports the Committee’s call for the Government to state clearly how it thinks the Hinkley Point C project will provide good value for money, given the strike price agreed of £92.50 per megawatt hour is far higher than the £49 to £90 currently paid for onshore wind. Solar prices and other renewable technology prices are also coming down rapidly as well.
The Committee have called for an Energy Commission to ensure competitive auctions have independent oversight and scrutiny.
The Committee Chair Lord Hollick said: “Renewables play and will continue to play a crucial part in energy policy. Costs have been reduced and efficiency has improved. New clean technologies must be supported to be commercially viable. A new National Energy Research Centre would also help the UK to catch other countries up in the race to find cost-effective solutions to the challenges the world faces on energy.” (1)
NFLA would support the development of an Energy Commission and a National Energy Research Centre, as it believes energy policy is still dominated by the interests of large energy utilities vying to build big nuclear power plants and fossil fuel facilities when there are much more cost effective renewable and decentralised energy solutions, coupled with recent and real improvements to energy efficiency and energy storage technology.
It was also reported today that Toshiba, until recently planning to build three new nuclear reactors at the Moorside site close to Sellafield in west Cumbria, is exploring ‘Chapter 11 bankruptcy’ for its U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse Electric Company. This is among a number of options to rebuild the business.
Toshiba recently said it would not construct reactors at the Moorside site, but would help develop the current phase of development. It is looking for a buyer of its 60% stake in the Moorside consortium. This news shows the extent of the crisis in the company and that the likelihood of developing the Moorside site must now have diminished significantly. (2)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
This damning House of Lords report emphasises a core point that NFLA has consistently made – new nuclear is too expensive, provides little value for money and could have a detrimental impact on security of supply as these complicated projects become impossible to both finance and build. I hope the Government takes up the Committee’s recommendation to improve energy policy and look for more obvious and cost effective low carbon alternatives likes onshore wind, solar, geothermal and more than likely tidal energy. With it also clear that Toshiba can’t deliver Moorside, with EDF under a heavy financial burden to deliver Hinkley Point and even Hitachi calling for government support to deliver Wylfa, it is high time ministers clutched the nettle and refocused UK low carbon energy policy away from new nuclear as a matter of urgency.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Independent 24th February 2017
(2) Japanese Business Federation, 24th February 2017