The crucial role nuclear will play in a decarbonised world
6 November 2019
As the New Nuclear Watch Institute forum gathers in London we have to face a difficult truth: right now, nuclear is losing the battle when it comes to costs.
The £92.50 per MWh price agreed for Hinkley Point C reflected the fact that this was a first of a kind project. At the time it was significantly cheaper than offshore wind.
Since then much has changed. We have to admit to ourselves that the wind industry has done a great job in reducing costs and risks across the board. The strike price of £40 per MWh that was successful in the most recent CfD auction presents a huge challenge.
That challenge becomes even greater when we are told that the Hinkley Point C project will cost more than previously thought – and that the risk of delays has also increased.
All this means nuclear is all too often portrayed as a technology of the past.
We have to regain control of the debate and make clear the crucial role nuclear will play in a decarbonised world, supporting the electrification of transport and heating and the spread of artificial intelligence and the internet of things. We have to make clear that nuclear is a future technology, not something from the past.
And that means above all that we have to be clear that nuclear power stations built after HPC will be cheaper, and that if we build a fleet the costs will fall yet further over time.
CGN’s experience as the world’s biggest developer of new nuclear power stations suggests that building a fleet of reactors delivers these sorts of significant reductions in costs.
It enables the supply chain to mobilise and develop experience and skills, and so significantly reduces construction risks. That fleet effect works across borders too as CGN applies and shares learnings and experience from China to projects here.
Building a fleet of 4-6 HPR1000s in this country will see the capability of the supply chain here grow further, and as a result the cost of delivery fall.
That in turn can open up opportunities for domestic suppliers not just to work on the HPR1000 programme in the UK but also on the much larger programme in China.
And all of this can ensure we have a competitive technology and a competitive supply chain. And enable nuclear to make its contribution to achieving carbon net zero by 2050.