August 13, 2015
Hinkley Point C has 'wrong design and is too expensive' says expert

The planned Hinkley Point C power station, near Burnham-On-Sea, is too expensive and uses the wrong type of reactor, a retired nuclear scientist and regional landscape campaigner has claimed this week.

The planned £24.5bn nuclear power station is under growing criticism from the energy industry and the City as the Government prepares to give the final go-ahead for the heavily subsidised project this autumn.

A series of hurdles remain before construction starts but with £7.2 million already paid by EDF Energy to West Somerset Council (WSC) and around 1,000 highly qualified staff required to run the facility, the benefits to the region are clear.

Critics of the project, which is due to open in 2023 when the current reactors are phased out, say its European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) remains unproven.

Phillip Bratby, a leading member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), who worked in the nuclear industry as a safety engineer for years, says the plant will be safe, low carbon and provide the constant 'baseline' power which even a thousand wind turbines could not match.

However, he believes the Government acted too hastily in sanctioning the current design before others were given a chance to provide a more economical alternative.

"I think that in picking the EPR they have chosen the worst of the three options available in terms of reactors," he said in a national newspaper interview this week.

"It is just a bigger version of an older design and not much different from Sizewell B but with a lot of added features. Other designs are much better, cheaper, and easier to build and operate."

"The EPR was just first in the queue and the first to get licensed. They have chosen the wrong design and paid a lot more money than was necessary. I don’t think Ed Davey got a particularly good deal."

Opponents have pointed out that the EPR reactor will cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London 2012 Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow.

Doubts about Hinkley Point have also deepened after a detailed report by HSBC’s energy analysts described eight key challenges to the project, which will be built by the state-backed French firm EDF and be part-financed by investment from China.

These challenges include declining demand for power in the UK, which is currently falling at the rate of 1% a year as energy-saving measures take effect.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to sign a final deal in October.


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