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Hinkley approval “defies logic”, say energy experts

The existing Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset, England. Photo by Richard Baker [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Energy experts at the University of Sussex have criticised the Government’s decision today (15 September) to approve Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in 20 years.

Giving the green light to Hinkley Point C in Somerset “defies logic”, according to experts in the Sussex Energy Group.

Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group, said:

“This is a bad deal for the UK and we’re going to be counting the costs for decades.

“Hinkley C may make sense from an investment or trade standpoint, helping bring in new experience and contractors into the UK energy scene, but it is a step backwards in terms of cost efficacy. 

“Energy efficiency practices and reductions in demand could have saved an even larger amount of energy at a fraction of a cost, as well as cost-effective renewables such as wind and solar.”

Dr Philip Johnstone, Research Fellow in the Sussex Energy Group, said:

“No amount of evidence regarding the immense costs and technical challenges experienced with the EPR reactor destined for Hinkley has changed the minds of British politicians.

“This decision defies logic in terms of economics or efficacy with the government’s own figures showing more practical and cheaper low-carbon alternatives.

“Britain is the only country in Europe so wedded to nuclear when others are turning away. We must now seriously question why the UK remains so uniquely attached to nuclear energy because on the grounds of costs, technical performance, and security this deal makes little sense.”

Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex, said:

“With virtually any industrial investment on this scale yielding at least as many high-skill jobs, current discussion on this point raises many questions.

“Why would a country subsidise jobs in an old and increasingly high cost global nuclear sector in which it has no strong internationally competitive position?

“Why not invest instead in renewable jobs, where the worldwide market is already massively larger than nuclear, becoming ever more competitive and where the UK enjoys the most favourable resource in Europe?

“Renewables offer huge national investment opportunities for less costly investment to create much more effective marketable jobs for the future.”

Gordon MacKerron, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex, said:

“The decision to go ahead with Hinkley is not a surprise, given the £2.5 billion reportedly already spent on the project.

“However the arguments in its favour are unconvincing: on security of supply the project is already at least eight years behind the schedule originally promised, and could easily slip a lot further; on jobs, Hinkley will provide skilled jobs, but many fewer than alternative energy investments in renewables and energy efficiency; on economics, the cost is huge and we will be locked in to a price of power from the project till at least 2060; on meeting emission commitments, Hinkley will help but there are many other ways that the same saving could be made.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 15 September 2016

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