The Hinkley nuclear power plant to be built in Somerset is the way forward for the UK.
That’s the view of Angela Knight, Chair at the Office for Tax Simplification and former CEO of Energy UK, who told ELN it is good the nation is starting to redevelop the nuclear industry.
Her comment comes following the government’s decision to give the go-ahead for the £18 billion project after reviewing it. The final deal was recently signed by the UK, French utility EDF and China’s CGN.
The UK has guaranteed a payment of £92.50 per megawatt hour for the electricity generated, which has been criticised by many as being too expensive.
Ms Knight believes if the nation is to continue closing coal-fired power plants, there must be a mix of gas and low carbon power and nuclear “has been enormously reliable for us in the UK”.
Speaking to ELN at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last week, she added: “There’s cheap coal-fired power stations producing us cheap electricity, it does rather look like there’s an awful lot of people who don’t want that. Gas, that’s the next one along on price, pretty good but we’re not secure any longer on that. We’ve still got this fight over fracking and then they start this argument about renewables versus nuclear.”
She believes the “argument is in the wrong place” because even though the price for nuclear is high, the power station continues producing power compared to wind and solar.
Ms Knight said: “All that I ever see is how much the wind piece costs or the sun piece costs. I never see added in how much this backup that’s only going to run for 60% or 70% of the time [will cost]. That seems to be ignored out of the calculation. Doing the sums properly, being honest about the costs is vitally important just as we have to shift the grid if we’re going to go for renewables. There are no cheap options.
“If you want cheap power, you keep the coal-fired power stations, if you want the next price up, you do gas, if you want to have a mixture of some carbon producing gas and some low carbon, then you have other things there as well and those other things are frankly, quite pricey.”
Keep an eye out for more stories from the Conservative Party Conference over the coming days.