Tuesday 16 August 2016 9:07 pm

Britain doesn't need Hinkley to keep the lights on, SSE says

One of the Big Six energy giants has said Britain doesn't need the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant to avoid blackouts in the future.

In a blog post first published on PoliticsHome, Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE wrote: "If Hinkley doesn't progress there is plenty [of alternatives] to fill the gap," such as new gas-fired power stations, other nuclear projects and windfarms.

Read more: Renewables might eventually keep the lights on – but Britain needs gas now

"[Hinkley's] significance to the UK’s needs for secure, modern supplies of electricity has been repeatedly overplayed," he said.

"Whilst it is undoubtedly true that we need new, cleaner technology to replace the older power stations coming off the system, there are enough credible alternatives out there which can be built in time to deliver the balanced energy mix we need, and a policy framework which can deliver the necessary investment."

The £18bn project's future was thrown into doubt last month after the UK government delayed its final decision to conduct a review, amid security concerns over Chinese involvement and criticism over the high costs.

But Phillips-Davies said that the Hinkley outcome remains secondary to maintaining investor confidence in the UK government's current energy policies. These include raising the cost of more pollutive energy generation, subsiding new low-carbon technologies and an annual auction to guarantee back-up power.

Read more: UK government could fall back on get-out clause for Hinkley

"The focus should be on maintaining confidence in the three main policies I have described and using the powerful levers that they provide to ensure that alternatives such as new gas and offshore wind can fill the gap if necessary," he said. 

"This would ensure that the UK has secure and affordable electricity, and is still on track to meet climate change targets."