Saturday, 29 August 2015

UK households to pay for French research

Two sections of yesterday's Indy report on the imminent Hinkley Point deal leapt out at me:

the Government and EDF – the energy giant that will operate Hinkley Point C and own around half of it – have agreed a deal that would guarantee EDF a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of the electricity it generates, rising with inflation, up to 2061. That’s nearly three times the current price, suggesting households may have to hand over a substantial subsidy to the French state-controlled generator in the form of higher bills.


The new reactors at Hinkley Point will use the EPR – European Pressurised Reactor – model, a highly sophisticated new design that is supposed to be safer and more efficient than older reactors, but which has been fraught with problems and is not yet up and running at any site in the world. The three other sites planning to use the new model have all suffered huge delays – in Finland, France and China – and Hinkley Point would be the fourth. Concerns about EPRs have mounted this year after a potentially catastrophic mistake was identified in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Flamanville, Normandy. At the heart of the problem was the 50ft-high safety casing, or “pressure vessel”, enclosing the reactor, which appeared to have been made inaccurately. This meant the enormous cylinder, whose function is to prevent radiation leaks, could be liable to crack, the ASN nuclear watchdog warned. A second problem has also emerged with the reactor cooling system at Flamanville.

This country should have learned from its experience in pioneering nuclear power stations. If the need is for a reliable basic supply of electricity which does not use coal or gas - and I believe the case has been made - then there are tried and trusted designs out there without again risking plant breakdown and eventual heavy decommissioning costs. We electricity users in the UK should not be expected to pay for EDF's experiments and there will be a revolt if customers of renewable-only companies such as Good Energy or Ecotricity, to name just two, are expected to pay a surcharge to meet the exorbitant nuclear strike price.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

There has been trouble at the reactor which is the prototype for EDF's Hinkley Point installationL