Ministers cannot keep “blindly carrying on” with expensive plans for a new reactor at Hinkley Point, a group of MEPs has said this week following the release of a new report suggesting that renewables could supply the same energy for £40billion less.
The study by the Intergenerational Foundation think tank states that once long-term subsidies for the project near Burnham-On-Sea are taken into account, solar and wind alternatives would offer significant savings.
It has added that these green energy sources do not come with the added burden of nuclear waste, and would allow the UK to live “within its economic and environmental means.”
The figures are based around the expected cost of building the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is currently £24bn, plus the Government subsidy of £92.50 per megawatt hour generated in its first 35 years.
Compared with the projected costs of renewable technologies over this period, the group claims that onshore windfarms would cost £31.2bn less than Hinkley, and solar photovoltaic power £39.9bn less, while generating the same amount of energy.
Report author Andrew Simms said in a statement this week that 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”.
“Without a rethink we risk passing on a huge intergenerational economic burden in which known costs are high, and risks exist heavily on the downside,” he said. “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.”
Green MEP for the South West Dr Molly Scott Cato said the report is similar to the findings of a similar study she commissioned last year which concludes “that renewables can produce electricity quicker and more cheaply, and can create a far greater boost to the regional economy and generate many more jobs than nuclear ever can,” she said.
“Yet the government continue to ignore the evidence and blindly carry on supporting this disastrous white elephant, driven on by their anti-renewables, pro-nuclear ideological obsession. There really isn’t any more space for nails in the coffin for Hinkley.”
Responding to the comments, a Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the Government does not recognise Intergenerational Foundation’s figures.
“Hinkley Point C is a good deal for consumers and, once operational will provide 60 years of secure, reliable and low-carbon electricity for the cost of 35,” he said.
“This will help us to keep the lights on while meeting our emissions targets in the most cost-effective way.”
Picured: Offshore wind farms like this one could save the UK billions of pounds compared to nuclear, claim campaigners (photo Kim Hansen)