Renewable cheaper than Nuclear

If payments made to private individuals who own renewable generating equipment, such as photovoltaic solar panels or wind turbines are compared to payments made to large corporations for nuclear energy, which will be the larger ? The answers may surprise some people.

John Urquhart writes...The unfortunate nuclear deal with the French and Chinese on Hinkley Point for the next 35 years is 9.25 pence per kW hour. Presumably, this will uplift with inflation. However, part of the deal is for the UK to provide an interest-free loan of 10 billion pounds, which is equivalent to paying them an extra £1 billion a year. The total amount of electricity that could theoretically be produced by Hinkley Point in one year is 3.2 million kW x 8,760 hours, or just over 28 billion kW hours. However, in practice, the average output from Hinkley Point will be not more than 70% of the theoretical rating of 3,200 megawatts. This is equivalent to 20 billion kW hours a year.
In other words, an extra 5p per kW hour just for the loan. So the total cost to the British tax payer is 14p per kW hour.

Compare this 14p per kW hour with the latest payments for wind and solar for large installations: solar is 6.85p FIT (feed-in tariff) plus 4.64p export fee= 11.49p; for wind it is 4.15p plus 4.64p = 8.79p.


Clearly, the government is paying out significantly more for nuclear than it is for solar or wind, but we will have to wait at least ten years for any new nuclear electricity. During that time, further installation of renewable energy sources will take place. The present capacity in 2012 is 15,420 megawatts, and assuming the same rate of increase over the next ten years, by 2023 the installed capacity will be 87,040 MW. Yes, renewable energy output averages just over 30% of installed capacity, compared with nuclear of 70%, but that is still equivalent to an installed nuclear capacity of 37,300 megawatts, or eleven new Hinkley Point power stations.

This makes the nuclear deal with the Chinese and French appear even more ridiculous. Yes, renewable energy will still have to be complemented by gas and coal – preferably with carbon capture – but so too will nuclear, particularly in response to peak demand. Of course, there is still the problem of storing and safeguarding nuclear waste for thousands of years to come. The use of the word 'disposal' with radioactivity is a misnomer.