A new yet to be published report by the UK government’s energy department states that it expects electricity generated by wind and solar to be less expensive than nuclear power by the time the UK’s new nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C is operational.
The new Conservative front bench decided to delay the final decision on Hinkley in July until later this year which has led to reporting on potential alternative energy sources should the final decision not be in favour of the multi-billion pound development.
The energy department report shows projected costs for onshore wind and solar to be approximately £50 – £75 per MWh by 2025. The cost of nuclear energy is expected to be between £85 and £125 per MWh at the same time. The guaranteed price offered by the government to EDF, the Hinkley developer is £92.50. This is first time that the government has stated that electricity generated from wind and solar will be less expensive than nuclear. Previous forecasts showed nuclear to be the cheaper option.
The National Audit Office’s July report on nuclear energy showed the figure with eh NAO stating “The [energy] department’s forecasts for the levelised cost of electricity of wind and solar in 2025 have decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for gas has not changed, while for nuclear it has increased.”
According to the NAO the current forecasts came from the energy department in March 2016 and that the full report is to be published shortly.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of the trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “These numbers speak for themselves: onshore wind and solar will be significantly better value than all other large scale sources of power in the UK by 2025.
“It is time to start backing the two technologies to deliver the clean power we need to hit our climate change targets and the cheap electricity required to keep bills down for consumers.”
Green party MEP Molly Scott Cato said: “These latest figures confirm what many of us have been saying for years: that the Hinkley project is a dud.
“The cost of renewables is tumbling and Hinkley will become a giant white elephant as it struggles to compete with cheaper renewable options. Research has shown that solar power would be a less costly way of generating the equivalent amount of power, and now the government’s own projections show that onshore wind too will be cheaper than nuclear by the time Hinkley is built.”
In our previous blog we spoke of Scotland’s record breaking renewable energy day and earlier this week the UK government confirmed that over 25% of the electricity consumed in the UK from January to April this year was generated by renewables, approximately half of which came from both on and offshore wind combined.
We have previously spoken of the falling cost of wind and solar generation and that in order to achieve our climate control and carbon reduction targets these technologies would be in the long run the most cost effective method of delivering it. Now the government are also agreeing with us.
With a decision due on Hinkley later in the year we wait to see what the final decision will be with interest. The new report will certainly give those making it food for thought. The final piece in the renewable energy jigsaw is energy storage and it is our belief that a revolution in that is just around the corner. We will discuss that in more detail in future blogs.
In the meantime we hope the government takes it all of this into account when making the decision which will shape our energy future for years to come.