As a decision on Hinkley Point C is delayed yet again, are the economics of nuclear bust in the UK?

British Government Signs A Deal For New Nuclear Power Plant
The new nuclear power station has been delayed yet again (Source: Getty)

Tony Lodge, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, says Yes.

News that the French decision to build the Hinkley C power station has been put back yet again is another blow to Britain’s fledgling energy policy. Unfortunately, it also further undermines what should be the positive case for new nuclear power plants in Britain. This decision, now in theory to be taken in the autumn (EDF had pledged to rule in May), means that, even if the plant gets built, it will not start generating electricity until the end of the next decade. The government needs to end this expensive farce. Coal plants are closing early and existing and new gas plants are not getting the right investment signals. This needs to change quickly and must be at the top of DECC’s agenda. Ministers must now focus policy on changing and strengthening the electricity capacity market so that the right signals are given to encourage generators to invest in existing gas fired plants and to get on with building new ones quickly.

Alistair Mackie, head of Holman Fenwick Willan’s energy and resources group, says No.

The headline writers may be tiring of the words delayed and stalled, but the French economy minister has reiterated the country’s commitment to the £18bn power station. The political forces are extremely prevalent and, given the Brexit headwinds, the British government would face huge embarrassment if Hinkley Point was abandoned. EDF may be on an ambitious capital raising plan but government backing from both sides of La Manche will help the business case. Nations need a good spread of sources for their power supply, and nuclear is a necessary part of the UK’s energy future. Fracking is a controversial and untested supply, with commentators still questioning whether it is commercially feasible, and government subsidies for many renewable energy sources have been slashed. Oil and gas prices can spike at a moment’s notice as a result of global events. We expect nuclear to remain an economically viable option for the UK’s energy needs in the near future.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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