Anti-nuclear campaigners have called on EDF Energy to give up its nuclear ambitions for Somerset and elsewhere following a report from a multinational investment bank which says it is time to “join the solar revolution”.
The bank, UBS, says large centralised power stations, like the proposed £16 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on the West Somerset coast, could be obsolete within ten to 20 years. It says large power stations will soon become extinct because they are too big and inflexible, and are “not relevant” for future electricity generation.
Hinkley C would be the first of a new generation of British nuclear reactors seen by the coalition Government as a vital part of the energy mix to meet Britain’s energy needs. The ten-year construction programme alone would be a huge boost to the Somerset economy.
French-owned EDF is still awaiting the outcome of an EC Commission report into whether its agreement with the Government on the price it will be paid for electricity generated counts as “state aid”, before making the final decision on investment.
An announcement from the EC Commission had originally been expected in July but is now expected by the end of December. The agreed “strike price” of £92.50 per megawatt hour is almost double the current price and some say it is an expensive subsidy.
UBS says solar energy costs have fallen rapidly and the technology is now on the verge of being competitive without subsidies. Battery costs are declining fast and electric vehicles will be cheaper. It expects home solar systems, small-scale home battery technology and an electric car to be a sensible investment by 2020.
Stop Hinkley spokesman Roy Pumfrey said: “EDF Energy needs to give up now before it wastes any more of the £16 billion cost of building Hinkley Point C.”
An EDF spokesman said: “Hinkley Point C is a critical project for the UK.”