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Letter from WWF and Greenpeace, 2012-07-18

Nuclear power is failing to deliver on cost estimates—so it is no surprise that EDF is making huge demands

Sir, The news that EDF is demanding very high guaranteed power prices for its proposed new nuclear stations (Business, July 16) is unsurprising . The costs of nuclear power are going up not down. Every new wave of nuclear power has failed to deliver on initial cost estimates, the latest examples of this being £2.7 billion cost overruns at Flamanville, France and £2.6 billion at Olkiluoto, Finland.

Paying £165/MWh for power from Hinkley Point would make new nuclear more costly than either onshore or offshore wind. EDF’s claim that offshore wind will be more expensive ignores the extensive review recently published by the Crown Estate showing that the costs of offshore wind, currently being built at about £140/MWh, will fall rapidly as the technology matures, reaching about £100/MWh by the 2020s.

The huge subsidy of £2.8 billion per year being sought for two reactors at Hinkley is in stark contrast to the current fight within Whitehall over levels of support for onshore wind power. The Treasury is currently pushing for a reduction in support for wind power that would save less than £20 million per year. Deep cuts in support would undermine investment in this key growth industry and force the UK to rely on more expensive and polluting forms of generation, calling into question the Government’s commitment to keeping energy bills affordable.

David Nussbaum
Chief Executive, WWF-UK

John Sauven
Executive Director, Greenpeace-UK