This week, the Government announced that the taxpayer would be subsidising the construction of a £16 billion, 3.3GW new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The deal was stuck with EDF, the French state owned utility. In the wake of the disaster at Fukishima, with dangerous levels of radioactive Strontium entering into their water, any investment in the construction of a new nuclear facility is short-sighted, presenting a formidable threat to the economic health and potentially the physical well being of future generations.
The subsidy presents the threat of a dangerous economic legacy for us now and for future generations. The guaranteed strike price of £92.50 per MWh lasts for 35 years, and is twice the current price of electricity in the market today.
What this means is that every taxpayer, regardless of whether one benefits from it or not, will be financing the generation of this electricity for the next 35 years. Because of the base load nature of nuclear power, there may be times when no one is consuming this electricity yet, the taxpayer will still be paying EDF and the investor consortia for generating it.
Foreign investment could comprise more than 50% of the ownership of the plant, which means our taxpayers’ money is contributing to the wealth of foreign nations instead of being invested at home. It’s a no brainer for the Chinese to take up to a 40% stake in the consortium, because for them it is a guaranteed investment return with very little risk. The move creates distortions in the supplier market and sets a greedy precedent for other suppliers.
This graph, prepared by the EEG to analyse the level of subsidy to be provided for Hinckley Point demostrates that even when the taxpayer subsidy for decommissioning the plant and the long term storage of the nuclear waste is excluded, the subsidy for nuclear power far exceeds any subsidies for solar PV or Wind (either on or offshore).
It doesn’t make any sense to continue to invest good money into an expensive and dangerous source of electricity. The lion’s share of the budget for the Department of Energy and Climate Change is allocated to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to manage our legacy of radioactive nuclear waste.
The UK has the highest stockpile in the world of radioactive Plutonium buried in a temporary storage facility in Cumbria. The cost of managing our nuclear legacy is estimated to be about £100 billion, the equivalent of the entire investment required to upgrade our electricity network.
We must reject this plan to expand the facility at Hinkley and support investment in clean, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency investment. We must invest in a smart grid that would transform our network into a low carbon, clean energy generation, transmission and distribution network. Please contact your MP and let them know you do not support any subsidy for nuclear power.