NEF responds to Hinkley Point C review

8th August 2016

The National Energy Foundation welcomes the new Government's decision to review the decision to support the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station development.

Kerry Mashford, the Foundation's Chief Executive, said: "We are unconvinced that a single large power station will provide UK consumers with the most cost-effective way of meeting demand and reducing carbon emissions from the mid-2020s."

She continued: "We recommend that the Government should do a side by side comparison of low-carbon options, including reducing demand by facilitating energy efficiency improvements, and combining energy saving measures with a variety of smaller low-carbon generation measures. Relying on a single project to deliver 7% of the UK's electricity generation is inherently risky, given the unresolved delays to similar projects in France and Finland."

Proven measures recommended by the Foundation for testing against the default option of large-scale nuclear include:

  • Large-scale programmes to undertake whole-house refurbishment to near-zero energy standards, as in the Energiesprong concept which will additionally alleviate fuel poverty.
  • Incentives to increase the take up of LED lighting across all sectors.
  • Support for improved energy management, especially in SMEs and the tertiary sector (education, healthcare and hospitality).
  • Greater focus on implementing cost-effective measures identified through ESOS audits.
  • Toughening rules to prohibit the sale or letting of properties rated "E" or worse on their energy performance certificate (EPC).
  • Easing planning constraints for community-based onshore wind generation.

The Foundation's SuperHomes project has shown that energy savings of up to 80% can be achieved by motivated householders, largely using well-established technologies. In the non-domestic sector, the Foundation has found that all businesses audited under the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) had cost-effective projects (see Notes to editors[1]) that were not being implemented due to institutional barriers, including management time, access to finance and tenure.

Across all sectors, measures could be balanced so that the average cost to UK consumers per kWh saved (or generated) for proven measures does not exceed the Hinkley Point strike price, and demand could be reduced before the date that Hinkley Point would otherwise commence generation.

In the longer term, given the lead time before Hinkley Point could come online, it also allows time for more innovative solutions to be tested, such as:

  • Intelligent building energy systems, linked to smart meters, to help balance demand and supply.
  • Wide-scale integration of battery storage with distributed generation (principally PV).
  • Alternatives to battery power for grid-scale energy storage.
  • Large scale trials of tidal lagoon generation solutions.
  • Smaller, modular nuclear fission technologies.

The Foundation therefore recommends that the new DBEIS should also undertake a strategic review of technologies and approaches potentially capable of meeting or reducing UK electricity demand over the period 2025-2050, to match the proposed lifetime of new nuclear, and enable the UK's 80% reduction in CO2 targets to be met.


Notes for editors

 

[1] NEF's own experience with ESOS audits of non-manufacturing companies (including a mix of those in the retail, leisure and financial services industries) identified 28.6 GWh of total potential savings. Of this, around 20.0 GWh came from buildings, mainly from electrical savings, with the balance in transport, and 14.0 GWh of the buildings savings (70%) had an estimated payback of under two years. Although recommended measures were inevitably skewed towards those with the lowest costs, to maximise the likelihood of take-up, the mean lifetime cost per MWh for building savings was estimated at £10.08, which compares very favourably with the guaranteed cost of Hinkley Point of £92.50 per MWh.