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Campaigners tell EDF Energy business to give up nuclear ambitions for Somerset

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Written by:   | Posted 01-September-2014 10:18

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.

The French are expected to provide between 45-50 per cent of the investment, the China National Nuclear Corporation 35-40 per cent and Areva 10 per cent. Discussions have taken place with a shortlist of other interested parties who could make a smaller investment.

Opposition group Stop Hinkley said: “If the European Commission gives the deal between the UK Government and EDF Energy the go-ahead consumers could be paying for these redundant reactors until around 2060.”

The bank 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 soon cost the same as conventional cars.

The bank expects home solar systems, small-scale home battery technology and an electric car to be a sensible investment for consumers in much of Europe by 2020.

The UBS report follows similar analysis by other large financial institutions and energy experts who expect new solar and renewable technologies to drive rapid change in large scale utility companies.

Stop Hinkley spokesperson 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.”

At the rapid rate of change in small-scale renewable energy technologies the nuclear reactors will be obsolete before they are built or very soon after, but consumers will be forced to keep paying for these redundant white elephants”.

An EDF spokesman said: “Hinkley Point C is a critical project for the UK.”

It will provide a secure and affordable supply of low carbon electricity for decades to come, creating 25,000 new employment opportunities over the construction period, with around 5,600 people employed on site at peak, and 900 permanent jobs during operation.

It will also restart the nuclear new build capability in the UK – rebuilding the country’s engineering and construction skills, and boosting the UK’s industrial stamina.”

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