BBC: So Is there a really need for Hinkley Point to be built?
Tom Burke: There isn’t actually, there’s lots and lots more things that we can do. There is no need to replace nuclear with nuclear, or indeed with gas. We’ve got so many more options, that by the time we get to the 20’s they are going to be an awful lot cheaper, a much better bargain for Britain’s bill payers. What’s interesting about Hinkley Point is that it has managed to be 10 years late before it’s even started, which is a record even for the nuclear industry, so we can’t have any confidence anyway that they what they say they’ll be able to do.
BBC: So would nuclear be more reliable than renewables?
Tom Burke: Not in recent experience. The most pressure that there has been on our supply margin over this winter has been when two nuclear reactors went off line unexpectedly. Actually solar and wind are much more predictable, we know exactly when they are not going to work, what we are able to do with our electricity system now with modern infomatics is actually manage the whole of the generation capacity we have, much more efficiently, and get more out of it. So what we are really looking at when we look around the world is a massive change going on in the way we design and run the energy system, in which big centralised generation capacity of any kind especially nuclear, is actually the past and not the future.
BBC: Are warnings about the lights going out warranted Tom Burke?
Tom Burke: Not really. The one person who has never issued a warning is the one person who would lose his jobs instantly if the lights ever did go out, and that’s Steve Holliday the man who runs National Grid. He’s not been concerned at the level that we’ve seen in the newspapers, who I think have exaggerated the problem enormously. The real problem for Hinkley, getting the finance, is because it’s such a bad deal. The French can’t find the money to go ahead with it, that’s EDF’s problem in the face of the enormous financial problems that they are having, and that’s one of the most likely reasons that there is a growing chance that actually it won’t happen at all.