The Ecologist

 
Hinkley Point B nuclear power station
Hinkley Point B nuclear power station by Robin Somes. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.
More articles about
Related Articles

Behind the nuclear smoke and mirrors

Tom Burke

26th October 2013

Mr Davey. If there is no public subsidy for Hinkley C why are you having to make an application to the Brussels for state aid clearance?

This whole farrago is about managing the headlines not the country!

There is an important question to be asked of Mr Davey. If there is no public subsidy for Hinkley C why are you having to make an application to the Brussels for state aid clearance?

The most important decision in this issue is EDF’s decision to order the major components for Hinkley. Only when that has happened will it become too expensive not to go ahead.

If that has not been done, no deal has actually been made. All that has happened is that the price the British Government will pay for the output from Hinkley has been announced.

It is very unlikely that any such order will be made until after state aid clearance has been granted.

As far as I can see the following is what the combination of Osborne and Davey’s announcements adds up to:-

Two Chinese companies will take a minority stake in EDF’s proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley point.

At some future point Chinese companies may be allowed to take a majority stake in other nuclear power stations if they are built.

Under the current levy control cap there is no money even to build the second EDF station let alone any Chinese stations.

The Chinese simply bought – for nothing – an option to participate in something that may never happen.

EDF have already announced that they do not expect the civil engineering work to begin at Hinkley before the middle of 2015.

This is an optimistic assumption about how long it might take to get state aids clearance.

It has already become clear that there will only be limited scope for British companies to supply the high value components for Hinkley

On the most optimistic assumptions there will be no electricity from Hinkley before 2023.

The price announced by Ed Davey will be about double the current wholesale price of electricity.

The wholesale price of electricity is the main component of energy bills.

In order to set that price he has had to guess the wholesale price of electricity in 2058 since the contract will last until then.

This is courageous. It means that if wholesale prices fall, British consumers will lose out substantially.

Wholesale prices for electricity in Germany have fallen about 30% in the past 12 months.

In short, this, not quite a deal yet, does nothing to reduce energy bills now, will not help to keep the lights on this winter and offers few high-value jobs for Britons.

It is another example of profit being privatised and risk being socialised.

No wonder the private sector has declined to take this opportunity.

You might call this a behind the smoke and mirrors view of the ‘deal’.

So why are the Coalition making such a fuss about it? Because it supports the political narrative that the Coalition is making the economy work and has made Britain an attractive place for inward investors. In other words, this whole farrago is about managing the headlines not the country.

Tom Burke is a former director of Friends of the Earth.He writes at www.tomburke.co.uk.

Add to StumbleUpon
  READ MORE...
COMMENT
Fukushima: the nightmare continues
Two and a half years on from the tsunami that caused several reactors to meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo and we are still in the dark about the true extent of the danger to human life and ecosystems writes Lynn Batten......
NEWS ANALYSIS
Fukushima fallout damaged thyroid glands of California babies
A new study finds that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.
COMMENT
Nuclear assault on the poor, workers and UK economy
Former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats, Donnachadh McCarthy, writes to Lib Dem DECC Secretary of State Ed Davey about Hinkley C nuclear power station.
NEWS ANALYSIS
Chinese nuclear disaster 'highly probable' by 2030
As the UK prepares to build a fleet of new nuclear power stations with Chinese capital and expertise, a former state nuclear expert warns: China itself is heading for nuclear catastrophe.
NEWS ANALYSIS
The ring of eternal fire
Nuclear Greens in a post-Fukushima world: Americans read the increasingly panic-stricken reports of meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant in Japan and asked: 'Can it happen here?' They already knew the answer.

 

Previous Articles...

ECOLOGIST COOKIES

Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...

 

FOLLOW
THE ECOLOGIST