New nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C is approved

 

Ed Davey said the new nuclear power station was a milestone on the road to decarbonisation

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The first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK has been given approval.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey told MPs in the Commons that he was granting planning consent for French energy giant EDF to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The proposed £14bn power plant would be capable of powering five million homes.

Mr Davey said the project was "of crucial national importance" but environmental groups reacted angrily.

25,000 jobs

The building of Hinkley Point C is expected to pave the way for a fleet of new plants across the UK.

It is estimated the project will create between 20,000 and 25,000 jobs during construction and 900 permanent jobs once in operation.

Analysis

Nuclear plants are not breeding fast - it has taken a whole generation to get this close to a new pair.

But today's decision is only the start of a government struggle to fuel much of the country on atomic power.

Because Hinkley is the only nuclear plant queuing for planning permission at the moment.

What's more, the stations there will have to be subsidised massively by the public under a deal being "intensely" discussed by the Treasury. Its owners are asking for government guarantees that may possibly be challenged under EU competition law and the firm is still looking for a business partner.

And even if the plants at Hinkley actually do get off the ground, there is still a huge question mark over the rest of the new-build programme.

To replace historic capacity would need at least three more developments on this scale. But it's barely conceivable that the new-build programme could progress with no sign of a long-term nuclear waste disposal in prospect.

The stakes are high. The government's chief energy scientist David Mackay recently warned that to supply clean energy to industry would take a four-fold increase in nuclear power - or (based on new figures) an increase in wind power of between 12-20 fold.

That's unless we all start saving energy with a level of frugality and invention which has eluded us so far.

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan said the power plant would cost more than the London 2012 Olympics.

Mr Davey told the Commons: "The planning decision to give consent to Hinkley Point follows a rigorous examination from the Planning Inspectorate, and detailed analysis within my department.

"This planned project adds to a number of new energy projects consented since May 2010, including wind farms and biomass and gas-fired power stations.

"It will benefit the local economy, through direct employment, the supply chain and the use of local services."

The news is a boost to the nuclear industry following a series of setbacks in plans to construct a new fleet of reactors in the UK, which ministers say are needed to cut carbon and keep the lights on.

Nuclear waste

Start Quote

It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity”

End Quote John Sauven Greenpeace chief executive

EDF says the project would generate taxes equivalent to a few percentage points of what the entire financial sector yields for the exchequer.

The energy giant is negotiating with ministers over what it can charge for the electricity Hinkley generates for decades to come.

Mr Davey said discussions on the strike price were ongoing, but he expected them to be concluded shortly.

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said "intensive discussions" were taking place.

He said: "To make this opportunity a reality, we need to reach agreement swiftly... It must offer a fair and balanced deal for consumers and investors."

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint welcomed the decision to grant planning consent.

"Today's announcement is an important milestone in the development of new nuclear build in the UK," she said.

"I am pleased to welcome it and reiterate our support for nuclear power alongside an expansion of renewable energy and investment in carbon capture and storage as part of a clean, secure and affordable energy supply for the future."

'Fair and balanced'

However, environmental groups have reacted angrily.

They raised concerns over the potentially high price for electricity the government will agree to in order to get the nuclear plant built, and over the issue of nuclear waste.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity, and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, cheaper technologies.

"With companies now saying the price of offshore wind will drop so much it will be on par with nuclear by 2020, there is no rationale for allowing Hinkley C to proceed."

Friends of the Earth's Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said: "The only way this plant will be built is if the government hands over a blank cheque from UK taxpayers to French developers, EDF.

"The most cost-effective way to cut carbon and keep the lights on is a combination of energy efficiency and investing in renewables."

Hinkley Point C Hinkley Point C is set to take between 8 and 10 years to become fully operational. It will be made up of two nuclear reactors and will be built next to Hinkley Point A and B.
Sea wall at Hinkley Point C The land will need to be flattened and then the sea wall will be built. After this, excavation work can start to lay the foundations of the nuclear plant including two underground 3km tunnels for the cooling water.
Turbine hall The building of the two reactors will be staggered with the first reactor expected to be operational in about eight years' time (2021).
Turbine hall The other aspects of the build include the turbine halls, standby power generators and a pumping station for the cooling water, interim waste storage facilities as well as a visitors' centre.
Workers' campus (artist impression) Workers' accommodation will be built across three sites, with two in Bridgwater and a third on site. Other infrastructure includes building two park and ride sites and developing Combwich Wharf.
View of Hinkley Point C with Hinkley Point A and B in the background The power station is expected to provide up to 25,000 jobs during the lifetime of the project and once built it will provide between 700-800 full-time jobs.

Hinkley C would be one of the UK's biggest infrastructure projects for years with 5,600 workers on site at the peak of construction.

Unite's national officer for energy Kevin Coyne, said the decision to grant consent was a "massive boost for jobs".

But Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, warned of a potential shortage of skilled engineers needed to build the plant.

"More needs to be done to increase the number of people choosing engineering as a career to overcome a skills shortage," he said.

"Over the next 10 years, the UK needs to be recruiting about 87,000 engineers a year, but worryingly we are currently producing just 46,000 engineers a year."

Hinkley Point C will be the third nuclear plant at the site.

Hinkley A, which is now being decommissioned, began generating in 1965 and was closed down in 1999. Hinkley B, which started generating in 1976, is due to be turned off in 2023.

The last nuclear plant built in the UK was Sizewell B in Suffolk. Building work for the plant, near Leiston, began in 1988 and it started operating seven years later.

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 718.

    703.
    Carse.
    I take it your referring to China's Three Gorges Dam an example of "Green" power generation? Not sure how you're scoring that one, if you look at the details if has a pretty significant legacy aswell, to both humans and the environment. But it shows that ALL forms of power generation come at a cost far beyond those purely financial.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 717.

    Fact 1: The world's worst Nuclear accident was Chernoble and the final death toll was just 56:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5173310.stm

    The mindless paranoia of the scaremongering Luddites on here is simply false!

    Fact 2: Wind Turbines simply don't work. Apart from being extremely expensive eyesores, they generate tiny amounts of electricity intermittently and need constant maintenance.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 716.

    Ref No1 Sausage sandwich.
    There were UK companies but old Gordon Brune sold them off, another triumph for Prudence.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 715.

    686.Name not found
    . We are supposed to be a nation of engineering masters ......
    What made the UK great once needs repeating once again.
    -
    We WERE a nation of very good engineers, but not now. The last generation of engineers with the experience that might have helped renew our former strengths is fast retiring. The politicians and media luvvies like Science, which is not Engineering.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 714.

    All I have is: http://xkcd.com/1162/

    And we can ruin the earth slowly but definatelly, or possibly.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 713.

    Many posters do not seem aware of the gulf between the generating potential of the different energy sources. Nuclear power stations are the only current alternative if we are to move away from reliance on fossil fuels. Putting a solar panel on the odd house is tokenism and is really not going to bridge the gap of demand vs. generation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 712.

    ... and to those who cite Germany as an example, I suggest you do your research. Germany is still dependent on nuclear power. Shutting the older nuclear plants in Germany meant operators curtailed many investments (including green investments!), electricty prices have risen, industry suffers and the grid stability of Europe is adversely affected. Wait a few year and see how Germany is affected.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 711.

    Thank goodness at last,this should happened years ago but Labour poo- hooded the idea when the opposition leader,at the time, William Hague brought the subject up in the House of Commons.
    This is the 1st stage of a long process and will take years to complete but it's a start.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 710.

    In the interests of the governments own Equality and Diversity legislation, would like to see the breakdown of the construction and permanent jobs stated in terms of most likely gender and age as I am totally sick of hearing about 'major infrastructure' projects that provide jobs which are totally unsuitable for women and the elderly people denied their pensions

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 709.

    To Vegraj - 679 - it is scary the amount of nuclear supporters on here. I was born in the 60s and remember the talk about Windscale years later ... I wish people would look back on history a lot more than they seem to. I didn't have kids to pass this info onto, I didn't want to bring another human being into an over populated , over polluted world! Greenpeace etc need to work harder !

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 708.

    As long as we expect the lights to go on, industry to continue and air pollution to be reduced there is NO other option. Why it is worse to get our electricity from a French company that is investing more in the UK, than our gas from Russia or oil from the Middle East?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 707.

    I live in Somerset, I'm an Engineer, but not involved with the Nuclear Industry or this project, and I welcome this development. To compare a power station in Somerset with those in highly seismic regions such as Japan is ridiculous and pure scare-mongering. But yes the facility will be designed with seismic events in mind, albeit modest and infrequent.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 706.

    700.Vegraj
    If you spent £67,000,000,000 on wind turbines then every square inch of the UK would be covered and we would still only produce a fraction of the power we need. Tidal generators have been proved to provide 4 times the energy as a wind turbine of equal capability. Tidal won't work as UK waters can't be subject to the same competition as land based firms.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 705.

    Vegraj

    'compare that to alternative energy'

    Is that like homeopathic medicine? You'll have energy as long as you BELIEVE you have energy? Okay, so there's only 1 part in 1x10^112 j being generated and it costs a bunch of money from a lady in a white tunic.

    That pretty much sums up the wind-farm and solar power fringe.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 704.

    Rolls Royce make the turbines BUT because the people building the plants are overseas the UK gets no tax. Tax from employees equates to a mere 1% of the net profits. And then it costs between 3-4 times the cost of a new plant to decommission the power station when they are reach end of life. This wipes out any benefit and the reason government commissioners are a complete pack of twits.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 703.

    We can bail out banks but we can not afford to harness energy from the sea. China built a Hydro Electric Dam that produces the energy of 11 Nuclear power stations. Jobs, Green Energy and power. Maybe the west could learn a lesson rather than preaching about human rights and democracy.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 702.

    Greenpeace there pretending that our energy bills are central to their concerns. Seriously, haven't they set back the nuclear power programme far enough with their foolish reactionary bleatings?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 701.

    Thank heavens for a rare good decision by the government. My only regret is that we do not seem to have a UK company capable of building the plant. Also will we be beholden to EDF in terms of how much we pay for the electricity?

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 700.

    If a fraction of what the proposed spend was used on alternative energy as is being done for nuclear, our energy supplies would be solved. What was the cost of sellafield decommisioning £67,000,000,000, and counting, compare that to alternative energy. !!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 699.

    Fukushima

    We're buying a lie - that we can have more and more power, more and more waste, and never pay a price for it. More and more tat, less and less time, more and more stress and frustration while surrounded by luxuries we're bored with.

    Stop being "consumers" and start being "human beings".

 

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