The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and the group ‘Stop Hinkley’ have submitted today a joint response to the UK Government’s call for evidence on Professor Dieter Helm’s review of the UK energy market and the financial costs of energy to consumers and businesses.
The Government’s ‘Call for Evidence’ asks for views on various ways the Government should take into account in considering how to reduce the cost of energy in the longer term, following the findings and recommendations of the Helm Review. It also asks for any additional relevant evidence to be submitted that stakeholders believe should be considered in trying to achieve this aim. (1)
The NFLA / Stop Hinkley submission argues the best way for the Government to keep costs as low as possible over the coming decades, while delivering its carbon targets, ensuring security of supply, and seizing the economic opportunities of the low carbon transition, is to cancel Hinkley Point C, scrap the new nuclear programme, launch a much more comprehensive energy efficiency programme and expand its renewable energy ambitions. (2)
The NFLA / Stop Hinkley response also notes:
- Cancelling Hinkley Point C now might incur a cancellation cost of around £2bn, but consumers could save around £50bn over its lifetime.
- Offshore wind is already approaching half the cost of nuclear power and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts costs will drop a further 71% by 2040.
- Removing the current block on onshore wind could save consumers around £1bn.
- Solar power is expected to be the cheapest source of energy (not just electricity) anywhere in the world by 2030 or 2040.
- Cost-effective investments in domestic energy efficiency between now and 2035 could save around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy and save an average of £270 per household per year at current energy prices. The investments would deliver net benefits worth £7.5bn to the UK.
- Renewables could soon be producing enough electricity to power the grid from April to October. If the Government continues with the nuclear programme then Ministers will have to explain to consumers why they are having to pay for expensive nuclear electricity when cheap renewables are being turned off.
- The UK has the technology to match green power supply and demand at affordable cost without fossil fuels – by deploying the ‘smart grid’, using ‘green gas’ made from surplus power, and raising energy efficiency.
- Baseload is not helpful in balancing a variable energy supply – it simply leads to further overproduction of energy at times when renewables can meet demand on their own.
- Switching from gas to electric heating would put a huge strain on the power transmission and distribution system and entail constructing a large number of new power stations in a short space of time; that would only be used for a few months of the year.
- The Government should rather be investigating power-to-gas (P2G) technology which can produce renewable hydrogen, using surplus renewable electricity, which could then be fed into the gas grid for storage or used for producing renewable heat.
NFLA Vice-Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“NFLA and Stop Hinkley welcome the Helm Review and the Government’s call for evidence on the costs of energy and hopes this time it listens to the views of all stakeholders. In our response we show in great detail that the cost of renewables are rapidly declining while their sophistication is growing. Intermittency issues are dealt with through battery storage, smart energy solutions and energy efficiency programmes.
“There is no need for new nuclear now in future energy policy if innovative renewable and decentralised energy solutions are actively pursued. Rather than the public see energy bills go up due to the huge costs of new nuclear build, the government should get out of their comfort zone and fully embrace the renewable revolution. Otherwise, energy costs will continue to rise and the scourge of fuel poverty increase, affecting the most vulnerable people in our society. I hope the Government takes on board our views and positively acts upon them.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Professor Dieter Helm’s ‘Cost of Energy Review’ for the UK Government, 25th October 2017
(2) NFLA Policy Briefing 170 giving its joint submission with Stop Hinkley to the call for evidence on the Helm Review is attached with this media release and will be placed on the NFLA website http://www.nuclearpolicy.info.