Renewables lobby questions economics behind Wylfa Newydd nuclear investment

The UK’s renewables lobby has scrutinised the government’s decision to directly invest billions of pounds in Hitachi’s proposed nuclear project, suggesting renewables to be a far cheaper and quicker way of decarbonising the country’s power.

Yesterday energy secretary Greg Clark confirmed to parliament that the government had entered into negotiations with Hitachi’s nuclear unit Horizon Nuclear Power over the proposed development of a 2.9GW nuclear facility in north Wales.

But rather than leave the development risk with third parties like it has with Hinkley Point C and EDF, the government is discussing the prospect of directly investing billions of pounds into the project in what constitutes a significant U-turn in government policy.

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Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, responded to the news by stating that the government needed to “carefully consider” the value for money argument before intervening.

“Hitachi’s struggles to fund the project privately represent one of the great challenges facing the nuclear industry, that it is highly complex and costly to design, build, operate and maintain a nuclear power station,” she said.

Furthermore, Skorupska added that as the cost of renewables like solar and wind continues to fall, they stand to be better suited to the wider nuances the energy transition presents.

“The costs of renewables are falling all the time whilst the clean technology sector continues to set records for generation, it is much quicker and cheaper to build an energy from waste, solar, wind or biomass plant than continue to pursue nuclear investment. Research shows that in the future the inflexible properties of nuclear will also become a liability to the system rather than an asset as it cannot respond quickly enough to changes in demand and supply on the system.”

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