BBC Radio 4 Today Program – Nuclear, Hinkley Point and Renewables


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I am impressed by EDF’s ability to have a nuclear power station that is six years late before they have even started constructing it.

The head of EDF promised us, in one of the many announcements about this actually going ahead, that we would be cooking our Christmas turkeys with electricity from Hinkley by 2017. Well they are unlikely to actually start construction before 2018, supposing they actually make the decision to go ahead.

There are a huge variety of things that can replace the supply from nuclear, we have a lot of wind and a lot of solar. We are already meeting more of our current electricity demand from renewables than we are from nuclear. The percentage of our energy needs that renewables can meet could go up to 45%, add in efficiency and the percentage gets bigger.

Offshore electricity costs are coming down to about the cost of nuclear, the costs are coming down now, and they will continue going down. Nuclear costs typically go up by 7% per year, everywhere all the time, and that’s because of constraints in the supply chain, and because of the difficulty of the engineering and so on.

Even David Howell who was the minister who introduced the big nuclear program in Margaret Thatcher’s government has started to express doubts about whether going ahead with Hinkley makes any sort of economic sense. It is rather odd to think that someone knows what the wholesale price of electricity is going to be in 2065, when we don’t really know what it is going to be next year.








About tomburke

Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a member of the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever and a Trustee of the Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool.
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