Hinkley, oh my god Hinkley
There are few policy ideas so hauntingly stupid as Hinkley C. It is a catastrophic decision that will leave a legacy of nuclear waste, spiralling costs to the consumer and cede control over energy and technology to the French and the Chinese. It will bleed resources away from the renewable sector and further burden future generations with a toxic nuclear inheritance. It’s a financial, ecological and political mistake of colossal proportions.
It’s not just the wrong thing to do now it’s the wrong thing to do for hundreds of years. That’s if it happens. Finland’s new EPR (which uses the same technology as Hinkley) was due to come online in 2009, and it still isn’t operating today. EDF announced that the “First electricity from Hinkley C is due to be produced in 2025” – it’s a timetable that none of the experts believes at all.
Mark Ruskell of the Scottish Greens said:
“Hinkley is a total waste of public money and will simply add to the toxic legacy the nuclear industry has already left us to deal with. The anti-Green agenda of the Westminster Government is doing serious damage to Scotland’s renewable energy potential. The Tories are locking us into a deal involving a type of reactor that has never been successfully built, with EDF’s other projects behind schedule and over budget. The fact that the UK Government is talking about future nuclear new builds underlines the need for Scotland to have greater control over energy policy, so we can chart a different course and create lasting jobs in industries that have a future.”
While Caroline Lucas called it: “The biggest white elephant in British history given the green light. An absurd decision on every level.”
It’s only through Freedom of Information Acts that we know the £70bn costs to clean-up of the Sellafield plant in Cumbria. Some think it could be as high as £218 billion others claim it just ‘can’t be forecast’. Hinkley C had been described as “the most expensive object on Earth” many months before the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that subsidies would be nearly five times as big as had been previously advertised.
The ‘low-carbon electricity’ argument is a complete red herring. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the renewable infrastructure, innovation and research a fraction of this budget could support. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine the insulation a tiny portion of this budget could support or how a third of this budget could transform British energy and fund a dynamic carbon reduction strategy.
The reality is that Hinkley C is already obsolete. With the boom in wind, tidal, hydro and solar we won’t ever need it.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Director, Dr Richard Dixon, said:
“Building new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point and committing to pay EDF twice the current energy price for the next 35 years is a colossal waste of public money. Our grandkids will still be paying it off and for generations to come.
“Once the deal has been signed comes the truly difficult part of actually building the plant. This type of reactor design has never been successfully completed anywhere with EDF’s two other projects in Finland and France well over budget and behind schedule. It is quite possible the Hinkley Point reactors will never produce a single electron.”
So what’s the driver behind this grand-scale disaster? It’s a form of crisis-capitalism that is going to create particular problems for Scotland. As Alistair Davidson has noted (‘Remindbi Me’):
“Hinkley Point is a serious problem for Scotland. The Scottish Government’s economic strategy is to transfer our world-leading marine engineering skills from oil to offshore wind. With 1/4 of Europe’s wind energy potential, and interconnectors to Norway and perhaps even Canada being planned, renewable energy could be a goldmine for Scotland – and give us real economic independence from Britain. Unfortunately for us, nuclear is the hardest power source to combine with wind, because while wind power is intermittent and unpredictable, nuclear power stations have to run 24/7 at a high proportion of their capacity. It’s no surprise that a Tory chancellor would casually wreck the environment and regional economies, but why hand over nuclear infrastructure to China in particular, and why now? The answer, as ever, is banking.
To compete with America, China needs to be able to borrow at cheap rates across the globe. Ever since Nixon ended the gold standard in the 1970s, the dollar has been- the currency central banks hold on to in case of emergencies. That has allowed America to borrow at staggeringly cheap rates, funding its Far East import addiction. Now China wants to join the party, and the City of London wants in. Far more important than the infrastructure projects is the sale of RMB30bn ($4.7bn) of Chinese debt in London – the first-ever foreign sale of Chinese debt. The Financial Times explains:
As renminbi internationalisation accelerates, the UK and China have implemented initiatives to link their financial markets, including plans to formally connect London and Shanghai stock markets.
“A highlight of China-UK economic relations is London’s potential role as a top offshore renminbi centre in Europe. This will further strengthen London’s position as a predominant global financial centre,” wrote Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities, last week.”
Once again, the future of Britain has been auctioned off to keep money flowing into the London banking ponzi scheme.”
This in the week that MeyGen opened the world’s largest tidal energy project, a project we reported on two years ago (‘The Winds of Change’).
“There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this project,” said Nicola Sturgeon, ahead of a visit to the Nigg Energy Park on Monday to see Atlantis unveil the first turbine to be installed under the waters of the Pentland Firth.
Unfortunately the eyes of the world are now looking on incredulous as Theresa May’s government goes against our national interest and creates an ecological nightmare for the future.