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10th November 2014
Author: Caroline Lockyer - Glenigan utilities sector expert
Representing more than £16 billion of construction investment, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station promises to secure our future energy needs. Glenigan first reported on the project during 2001 and it is only now, nearly 14 years later, that work is due to start on site.
The 3,200 MW, twin reactor generator at Hinkley Point in Somerset is set to be the UK's first new nuclear power station in 20 years (Glenigan Project ID: 01611123).
After languishing in the planning pipeline since 2001, the development hit the headlines in October last year when energy giant EDF announced a multi-billion pound deal had been agreed with the UK Government. Under the terms of the agreement, the French company will be guaranteed a “strike price” of £92.50 for every megawatt hour of power produced by the plant for 35 years.
EDF claims the development will not only provide a clean, secure and affordable source of electricity, but also opportunities for businesses to win a share of the £16 billion construction investment.
However the development has faced significant opposition, undergoing rigorous public consultations, before finally receiving the European Commission’s seal of approval in early October. The final hurdle it must now clear is opposition against this decision from Austria.
As supporters and opponents of the development prepare to deliver their final arguments, we take a look a closer look at the main talking points surrounding the project:
Hinkley Point C will be a 3.2GW power station, creating approximately 25,000 employment opportunities throughout its 10-year build programme. According to EDF, it will revitalise the UK’s nuclear power stations also causing a great knock on effect throughout the surrounding communities.
Welfare buildings, training colleges, at least three park and ride facilities and a transport system will be incorporated into this, not just future changing, but landscape changing too.
From these statistics, Hinkley Point C appears to tick all the environmental boxes - but how is it viewed by the general public?
It is clear that the local Bridgwater community would benefit most from the project, primarily through the provision of jobs created in the 10-year period of construction and the 60 years of operations and maintenance following this.
Communication with the community was comprehensive and wide reaching, with 34 public consultations and more than 33,000 comments received. This helped inform the project team’s perspective regarding construction and local requirements while works are carried out.
However one vital question asked locally and nationally was `why nuclear?’. EDF also invests heavily in offshore wind energy so why couldn’t this project have been set off the coast?
EDF has stated that it believes investing in nuclear is the best way to keep the `energy gap’ - which could be caused by the decommissioning of power plants - at bay. Once switched on, the power plant will not be switched off, providing a continuous supply of electricity.
It was felt that wind power would be ideal in the short term; however more than 1,500 offshore turbines would be needed to reach the required output. They were also need to be replaced after 25 years. Nuclear power would prove more consistent in this instance.
But the biggest question remains: will Hinkley Point C fill the energy gap? EDF certainly claims it will – with numerous other benefits besides. But will the tax payer’s pockets ultimately suffer? And how much disruption will it bring to the local environment and infrastructure?
What price are we prepared to pay for an - almost - unlimited energy supply?
For further information about alternative energy within the construction industry, contact Caroline Lockyer, Utilities Sector Expert at Glenigan, on 01202 786723.
Do you think mega projects such as Hinkley Point herald a new era of public support for the alternative energy sector or do you think it will continue to divide opinion? Get involved with the debate on Glenigan’s social media channels via the icons at the top of the screen.
IMAGE: Artist’s impression of Hinkley Point C - Copyright EDF Energy 2011
Kirsty Maclagan (Marketing and Communications Manager)
T: +44 (0)1202 786 842│E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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