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ADBA CEO urges UK government to back AD as Hinckley Point nuclear plant decision is unveiled

EXCLUSIVE: Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association’s (ADBA) chief executive Charlotte Morton has urged the UK government to support anaerobic digestion (AD) as it formally announced plans to go ahead with building a new £18bn nuclear power station in Somerset.

The new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is being financed by the French and the Chinese. In exchange, China wants to use its design for new UK nuclear stations. Jean-Bernard Lévy, group chief executive of French firm EDF, which is building the plant, said: "The decision of the British Government to approve the construction of Hinkley Point C marks the relaunch of nuclear in Europe."

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Commenting on the news, Charlotte Morton, chief executive of ADBA, told Bioenergy Insight: “It is remarkable that the government has proposed a subsidy of £0/MWhe for new baseload waste AD whilst offering a subsidy of £55/MWhe to Hinkley.

“The government is closing support to new electricity AD plants in 2018, while Hinkley will be rewarded with a 35 year guaranteed price contract. By the late 2020s, AD would, if supported, be delivering the same amount of electricity as Hinkley. Significantly, however, AD would be delivering at least 1 GWe of this by 2020, five years before nuclear will have generated any power at all, even assuming it is on schedule, which is highly unlikely given the delays at Flammenville and Olkiluoto Island.

“The domestic AD industry offers not only greater value for money for the consumer, but 10 times more permanent jobs and greater certainty of energy supply. Given the particularly tight margins at peak times, including the current heat wave, the government should not be shutting out a world-leading British industry that has proven its ability to deliver.”

George Giles, head of environmental power at Siemens, told Bioenergy Insight: “Nuclear is a key part of the UK’s energy mix so it is good news that after all the many years of delays it seems that this project is finally going to go ahead.  

“The cost of the project and then the cost of electricity supply has been of much debate and it is too early to say how this could impact the bioenergy sector.  However, with such a significant level of subsidy been given to make this project viable there must be concerns about how this may impact the future availability of subsidies for bioenergy and other energy-from-waste (EfW) schemes.”

Not online until 2030

Jonathan Robinson, principal consultant for energy and environment at Frost & Sullivan, offered mixed views on the UK’s government decision to go ahead with Hinckley Point.

He said: “After surprising all parties with a review of the deal in July, the UK government has now given the go ahead for a new nuclear plant at Hinkley. The decision is key to the renewal of the UK’s power infrastructure. When completed, it will supply 7% of the UK’s electricity, vital given the closure of all the UK’s coal plants by 2025 and the closure of nuclear plants in the 2020s and 2030s.

“However, the length of time it will take to come online is a key issue, given the capacity gap that is looming in the UK. This approval does not mean the immediate start to construction and further delays are almost inevitable. Comparable nuclear projects in France and Finland have had massive cost and time overruns. Finland’s Olkiluoto is now running 9 years late and will take 15 years in total to construct. On this basis, even if Hinkley is started now it will not be online until the 2030s.

“One ongoing contentious issue is the likely cost of the project, projections for which have continued to rise, which means that UK taxpayers are in effect subsidising a project that assumes energy costs will be more than double what they are now once operational.

“The recent decline in wholesale gas costs, coupled with the continued decline in renewables, particularly solar, has made new nuclear projects harder to justify. Fortunately, the length of time this project will take to construct means that many of the decision makers will be in political retirement before the full impact is felt.”

This article was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight.





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