No to Nuclear!
Kick Nuclear is a group of activists campaigning against DECC’s ill-considered nuclear plans. We are just one of many such groups in the UK and, indeed, world-wide.
In our views, nuclear power is uneconomic, unsustainable, unethical, undemocratic, unsafe and unhealthy. It’s ability to reduce CO2 emissions is tiny compared to the renewables, and US reports indicate that, $ per g CO2 saved, nuclear is the worst available method, by a considerable margin.
In particular, we remain opposed to DECC’s plans for Hinkley C (HPC) in Somerset. This is now highly unlikely to be built for the financial, high cost, insolvency, legal, and technical reasons set out on the reverse.
Hinkley C (HPC) in Somerset is highly unlikely to be built for financial, high cost, insolvency, legal, and technical reasons.
(a) HPC’s construction costs are extremely high - £24.5 billion in 2014 and rising. This is more than twice the cost of the 2012 UK Olympic Games.
(b) Almost all agencies, both international and national, are unwilling to finance HPC: the exception being the mooted participation of Chinese Government agencies.
(c) This will only occur if the Chinese Government controls important aspects of the project, and thus a part of UK energy policy: this is unlikely to prove palatable to the UK population.
(d) The proposed construction costs for HPC are so high that the previous Government had to propose a guarantee of £10 billion (the FT on June 15 said £16 billion) towards them.
(e) The proposed French constructor AREVA is technically bankrupt and the French utility Electricité de France is in severe financial difficulties. Both are 84% owned by the French state.
High Proposed Tariffs
(f) The previous Government offered huge operational tariffs - £92.50 per MWh guaranteed for 35 years inflation proofed - and would be likely to increase. This is about double the current wholesale tariff for UK electricity.
(g) On the other hand, most Renewable Energy (RE) tariffs are already below this and decreasing, in some cases rapidly.
(h) The Austrian and Luxembourg Governments and various RE utilities are appealing the UK's proposed massive state aid to Hinkley C. This is likely to take 2 to 4 years: even then the Austrian Government has stated it will appeal against any positive decision. Nothing can happen until all these cases are decided: ie, a delay of at least 4 or 6 years.
(i) The four other EPRs under construction in the world are suffering serious technical problems with consequent long delays, budgets spiralling out of control, and legal counterclaims. The two EPRs under construction in Europe (Finland and France) may in fact prove impossible to construct.
(j) The French nuclear regulator, ASN, has announced a "very serious" finding that reactor pressure vessel domes/bottoms of EPR reactors made by Areva at Le Creuset in France are faulty and may need to be replaced. This includes the reactor domes/bottoms for Hinkley C which have already been built at Le Creuset, and will likely need to be recast.
(k) Similarly, French nuclear inspectors at ASN and IRSN very recently warned EdF about multiple faults in crucial safety valves in the Flamanville nuclear reactor - the same model DECC plans to use.
In reality, any one of the many problems overleaf would prove very difficult for HPC: add them together and the outlook is terminal - as most independent commentators acknowledge. Indeed, Areva has halted all site preparation at Hinkley and closed their offices there.
However, unfortunately, DECC’s nuclear diehards do not appear to recognise reality even if it smacks them in the face from multiple directions: they continue to flog HPC’s dead horse and press the Treasury accordingly.
This is tantamount to stupidity, and we hope that the Treasury will withstand DECC’s nuclear blandishments. In our view, it’s unconscionable for nuclear acolytes from Electricité de France and its nuclear consultancies, who appear to staff most of DECC, to press the Treasury for such imprudent financial largesse. Most renewables are already less expensive than nuclear and, unlike nuclear, continue to plummet in price.
So please stand firm, Treasury. Just think, millions of British electricity bill payers will thank you for not stuffing £ billions of British pound notes into the French Treasury’s coffers.
And please tell DECC’s nuclear obsessives to go back to Electricité de France … avec un sourire poli, bien sûr.
The Kick Nuclear Team