Wind farms and solar energy would cost billions less than Hinkley nuclear plant

A new report says Hinkley reactors would pass burdens onto future generations


Scrapping a planned £24 billion extension of Hinkley nuclear power station in favour of renewable energy would provide the same amount of energy, and save nearly £40 billion, according to a new report.

The ‘Toxic-time capsule’ report, released today by the Intergeneration Foundation, calls the proposed Hinkley Point C the ‘most expensive building on Earth’, and argues it would place economic and environmental burdens on future generations.

EDF Energy’s plans for the new reactors in Somerset would cost the government £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years of electricity supply.

But the think tank’s research, based on public subsidiaries and construction costs, found that onshore windfarms would cost £31.2 billion less, and solar photovoltaic power £39.9 billion over the same period.

It adds that renewable energy is preferable to nuclear power, as reactors cannot be built quickly enough to curb global warming, handing on the problems of nuclear waste and climate change to our children and grandchildren.

Andrew Simms, co-author of the report, said:

“The government’s current plans for new nuclear power will break spending records, and pass both high costs and large, unknown economic risks onto every UK child for generations to come.

But readily available, cheaper, safer and quicker renewable energy options would help Britain live both within its economic and environmental means, while also protecting and providing for future generations.”

EDF says Hinkley Point C will create thousands of jobs, provide 7 percent of the UK’s energy and help meet carbon reduction targets.


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6 Responses to “Wind farms and solar energy would cost billions less than Hinkley nuclear plant”

  1. Mark Pawelek

    The most inexpensive alternative to Hinkley C are high capacity interconnectors to Sweden. We are already building 1.7 Gigawatt of interconnectors to Norway. Instead of Hinkley (3.2 Gigawatt), we could build 3.4 Gigawatt of interconnectors to Sweden for about £4.5bn. The average wholesale price of British electricity, for the first 12 weeks of 2016 was £36 per Megawatt hour. Swedish electricity wholesale costs are as low as €20, or £16 per Megawatt hour. [In comparison new North Sea wind farms will harvest a contract for difference of £154 per Megawatt hour.]

    Renewable energies will not provide “thousands of jobs for future generations”. It will just impoverish us. First of all the technology is expensive and we would need vast amounts of it. Nearly all of it imported from China, Denmark, etc. Next: it does not even reduce carbon dioxide emissions as much as claimed because intermittent renewables like wind and solar depend upon time of day, season and weather. There is no way to deal with the intermittency issue apart from burning fossil fuels. All the proposed energy storage technologies will be prohibitively expensive when the vast scale required is taken into account.

    The alternative to the Swedish interconnectors are:
    1) to deregulate nuclear power so that we can quickly build advanced nuclear reactors such as molten salt reactors (MSR). In less than 10 years. Engineers have calculated the cost to be about £1bn for a Gigawatt of power. That works out even less than the capital required for the Swedish interconnectors.
    2) Build gas-fired power stations. These are very cheap to make – less than £2bn for plants with the same capacity as Hinkley C (3.2 Gigawatts).

    Why are you quoting Andrew Simms in a supposedly left-wing article. This man is just a pessimistic, doom-mongering, hard green campaigner, who’d like nothing more than to close Western civilization down. Good luck building socialism then when we’re all at each other’s throats over resources!

  2. James Kemp

    Great and they work 24/7 and provide power on demand do they? NO so why compare apples to oranges just because it suits your agenda. I have no problem with green energy but you need a mix for base load that you cannot do with green energy as you cannot store it. If we are to get rid of all carbon based power stations that there is only nuclear power left as we cannot trust gas suppliers like Russia.

  3. Malte Storm

    These figures of wind and solar include baseload capacities such as gas power plants fired with methane generated by wind turbines as back up capacity. All these technologies together to generate 3,2GW 24/7 and have a lower price tag than a nuclear power plant. Nuclear lobbiest just know how to do their job.

  4. Scottish Scientist

    Malte Storm, power-to-hydrogen gas is simpler (electrolysis of water) than power-to-methane. Pumped-storage hydro is more efficient than either.

    Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power

    “Such modelling can predict how much wind power and pumped-storage energy capacity should be installed for satisfactory renewables-only generation.”

    World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?

    “The maximum potential energy which could be stored by such a scheme is colossal – about 6800 Gigawatt-hours – or 283 Gigawatt-days – enough capacity to balance and back-up the intermittent renewable energy generators such as wind and solar power for the whole of Europe!”

    Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power

    The diagram shows how hydrogen gas can be used to store energy from renewable-energy platforms floating at sea by sending any surplus wind and solar electrical power down a sub-sea cable to power underwater high-pressure electrolysis to make compressed hydrogen to store in underwater inflatable gas-bags.

    It’s potentially very cheap because no super-strong pressure containment vessels are required – the ambient hydrostatic pressure which is proportional to depth serves to compress the hydrogen gas to containable densities.

    Scottish Scientist
    Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

  5. Ian page

    The most common argument against cheap onshore wind is that as we are an island we can’t use the European solution of backing up supply across the continent.a German study tracking demand with a virtual renewable cluster showed that this allowed 100% renewables.

    The first commentator is right integrating the UK into the European network through bigger interconnectors is by far the cheapest solution for both buying cheap hydro and geothermal from Iceland and exporting what looks like a future profitable excess of wind from Scotland.

    Storage is of course needed and the company building the new pumped hydro near dinorvic has a number of sites available which will make a commercial profit.

    All of which supports the position of earlier comments and my pronuclear retired nuclear industry engineers that hinkley is a mad stupid waste of money for purely political advantage. Even the decc was against it but overuled by Cameron.

    I’m not a lefty I just hate stupidity!

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