The chief executive of Perth-based energy giant SSE said the UK does not need EDF’s £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear plant because there are enough credible alternative energy projects which could be built in time to deliver the balanced energy mix the UK needs.
The future of Hinkley Point C in southwest England is now in doubt after UK Prime Minister Theresa May delayed the government’s approval because of security concerns about China’s involvement in the project.
China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) owns a 33% stake in the plant.
In an opinion piece on the PoliticsHome web site, Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “I have absolutely no idea what will happen to Hinkley Point C and whether it will be taken forward or not.
“For me though, its significance to the UK’s needs for secure, modern supplies of electricity has been repeatedly overplayed.
“Whilst it is undoubtedly true that we need new, cleaner technology to replace the older power stations coming off the system, there are enough credible alternatives out there which can be built in time to deliver the balanced energy mix we need, and a policy framework which can deliver the necessary investment.”
Phillips-Davies said SSE had just started building the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm in the Moray Firth, which has a low carbon contract, and will be seeking to put two new gas-fired power stations — Keadby in Lincolnshire and Abernedd in South Wales — into the next annual capacity auction.
“Today there is now nearly twice as much generating capacity from new gas-fired power stations and offshore wind potentially waiting to come on to the country’s electricity system by 2025 as there is old coal and nuclear coming off,” he said.
“There are also other new nuclear projects being developed around the country.
“And there are other options to be thought about: wind power in the remote Scottish islands and perhaps even some repowering of old wind farms without subsidy, as well as emerging technologies like small modular reactors or demand-side-response and storage.
“So, if Hinkley doesn’t progress there is plenty to fill the gap.
“And the alternatives are not necessarily more expensive.
“The state of the art 7MW turbine blades used in our Beatrice wind farm will be manufactured at Siemens new manufacturing plant in Hull, helping to develop a UK supply chain to allow this technology to go toe-to-toe with nuclear on cost by 2025.
“This is an opportunity to seriously build part of a UK industrial strategy around.
“So, whatever is decided on Hinkley is, for me, a second order issue.”