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AEP Misses The Point About Hinkley

September 17, 2016
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood 




AEP comes to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons!


There is little point reprinting the article, as he simply rehashes his old argument that we can replace Hinkley with offshore wind:


Offshore wind contracts in Holland and Denmark are already coming in far below the Hinkley strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, even allowing for hidden subsidies. The same companies say they can match this relatively quickly in Britain.

The industry has vowed to reach a target of £69 per MWh by 2025, driven by economies of scale.


And of course there are still the same old holes in his arguments:


1) The projects in Holland, which he constantly mentions, are not comparable, because all the considerable costs of transmission are being paid by the government. In addition, the state is also paying for all of the exploration, provision of site data and environmental impact assessments.

For a proper comparison, at the most recent auction last year offshore wind contracts were awarded at £119.89/MWh at 2012 prices, or £126.85 at current prices.

It is true that George Osborne set a cap at £105/MWh (again at 2012 prices) for the next CfD round, in his last budget. This will fall to £85/MWh for projects commissioned by 2026. But there is no guarantee that this will end up attracting any bidders, or that future chancellors won’t simply raise the price.

Hoping that something comes along in ten years time is no way to run the country’s energy policy.


2) He ignores the fact that trying to compare nuclear with wind power is comparing chalk and cheese. Nuclear provides reliable, dispatchable baseload. Wind does not.

He whittles on about battery storage, which does not exist in anything like the scale needed. Even if it did, it would add colossally to the cost of wind power.

He shows how poorly he understands energy markets when he says:

Britain will always need reliable ‘base-load’ power to supplement renewables but big nuclear reactors are a poor way to do this. They cannot easily be switched on an off.

The whole point about baseload is that it does not have to constantly switched on and off, a reason why the existing nuclear plants we have are so successful at providing that very same baseload.


3) To replace Hinkley’s output with offshore wind would require an extra 7.2 GW of offshore wind capacity, on top of the 5.1 GW we already have, and the extra 17.4 GW already planned or projected.

This is not small feed.

And, of course, we would still need an extra 3.2 GW of reliable backup capacity, such as CCGT, to cover for wind’s intermittency, a fact that even Richard Black, who is paid to shill for renewable interests, admits.

  1. September 17, 2016 4:56 pm

    ‘Britain will always need reliable ‘base-load’ power to supplement renewables but big nuclear reactors are a poor way to do this. They cannot easily be switched on an off.’

    There’s a simple solution to that: switch the wind turbines off instead 🙂

    • A C Osborn permalink
      September 17, 2016 7:20 pm


  2. September 17, 2016 7:44 pm

    Although, as Paul points out, the point of baseload power stations is that you don’t switch them on and off, nuclear power stations are in fact easy to switch on and off. At the end of each fuel cycle they are powered down and after refuelling they are powered back up – it is a standard routine.

  3. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 17, 2016 9:18 pm

    Perhaps more importantly, we can’t guarantee to switch wind on when we need it. No, not even by sharing on a continental scale:

    The above site came to my attention through this article at Euan Mearns’ site:

    Which of course discusses another one of those hidden costs of wind power.

  4. September 18, 2016 7:37 am

    Excerpt from this article (typical for the author)

    “Once electricity can be stored at viable cost, the ‘intermittency’ problems of wind and solar fade away. This alone could render Hinkley Point an anachronism by 2025.”

    This statement must be compared with an enthusiastic (and therefore quite likely optimistic assessment story headed, “The US Deployed 41.2MW of Energy Storage in Q2 2016, On Pace for Another Historic Year” at

    The Torygraph ought to require that Ambrose should learn some simple arithmetic, me thinks! Not that I am a great fan of Hinkley

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    September 18, 2016 10:01 am

    There is something else way beyond AEP’s ability to comprehend – frequency control. The base load of proper generating plant controls the grid frequency. Windmills don’t run at a constant speed like a generator does so produce variable frequency. Without the base load the frequency would be all over the place.

    Hinckley is one of the worst ideas, along with Swansea Bay and Severn estuary tidal schemes and a fast rail line to Birmingham ever conceived.

  6. dave Etchell permalink
    September 18, 2016 3:31 pm

    What would be wrong with guaranteeing base load by removing the restrictions on Drax and building another one at Immingham. OK it aint green but so what The power produced would be at less than half the cost of that at Hinkley. Put our ‘freezing to death in winter pensioners ‘ above any green considerations, say I. The extra CO2 etc would be miniscule compared to the huge amount being spewed out by China, India, the rest of Europe and America.

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