Posted by Suzanna Hinson

A seemingly positive message of hope for nuclear came from the East today, as Chancellor George Osborne announced from his tour of China that this “golden business relationship” had yielded £2billion pounds of UK tax-payer-guaranteed investment for the elusive Hinkley C power plant. Osborne said “Britain was the home to the very first civil nuclear power stations in the world and I am determined that we now lead the way again”.

But back in the West, and perhaps in reality, many have been questioning whether Hinkley C would actually be a positive development for Britain. Three prominent environmentalists, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall, have written “yes, we are pro-nuclear, but not at any price”. Hinkley, they argue, is too high a price to pay. They point to the £24.5bn construction costs, the price guarantee of £92.50 per megawatt hour for the next 35 years, and the time and cost overruns experienced at the two other European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) in France and Finland. Hinkley, they say, should be scrapped.

Our Director Stephen Tindale has echoed these sentiments. He believes that the contract with EDF energy to build an EPR at Hinkley is reasonable, despite its high, costs, because the plant would provide 7% of UK electricity: carbon and air pollutant free. But this belief only holds if the new reactor were built on time and on budget – conditions that it is widely accepted Hinkley will fail to fulfill. Stephen told this morning’s Today Program that “there are many different types of reactor and the UK government has unfortunately chosen a bad one: the European Pressurized Reactor is impossible to build on time and on budget”. He continued that now there is an opportunity for Amber Rudd to say “this was a mistake and lets start again”.

A new start, and a genuinely positive development for the UK, would be for the government to stop wastefully ploughing time and money into the stagnant Hinkley project. There are a wealth of more advanced reactors that could potentially promise better safety, higher security, greater sustainability and importantly, lower costs. The government has funding, sites and support it could and should offer to make a prototype of one or many of these designs a reality – this is what the British nuclear industry should really hope for. Listen to Stephen’s BBC Today Programme interview here:

Comments

  1. Marcelo Pacheco says:

    I would love MSR reactors on Hinkley instead. However they aren’t off the shelf designs yet.
    I think its important to question and explain why China is building EPR/AP1000 and other reactors there in half the time and at less than 1/3 the price.
    Of course part of the answer is lower labour costs, but if that was the only issue, that doesn’t explain the half time part, also labour costs might explain 1/3 more expensive.
    I have no love for Gen III+ designs (specifically I have no reason to support any EPR construction projects).
    Adopting Thor Energy Plutonium+Thorium fuel on an AP1000/ESBWR would permit up to 20% uprates, which would keep the construction costs the same but allow for 20% more energy to be produced by the reactor. At the same time it could be the solution to use the UK plutonium stockpiles.
    But I really would like a proper explanation for the China-eastern nuclear construction discrepancies.
    And its not just China. India and South Korea are also building reactors much faster and way cheaper.
    Without the question we could end up with MSR reactors costing many times quoted prices and taking too long to build.

    • db says:

      We would be better off paying the Koreans to come and help us build them; fewer political headaches and a proven track record of building on time and on budget.

  2. Marcelo Pacheco says:

    I just want to stress that AP1000 projects are running late and way over budget in the USA too. It’s neither an EPR or a European specific problem. Thanks.

  3. Rob says:

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium ( Molten Salt ) Reactors are the way to go. Just need a bit more money put behind the tech to get them up and running. It’s will save the world and give enough clean cheap, safe energy for the whole planet. Spread the word!

    Here is a link to it, Watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3rL08J7fDA

    Why we can’t put the waste of money at Hinkley C into bring the MSR up to the level where it can come online i just don’t know.

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