UK and seven other EU countries call on commission for increased nuclear aid funding and support to help meet climate targets and energy security objectives
The letter to the commission’s vice president Sefkovic and climate commissioner Miguel Cañete was signed by the Romanian energy minister, Andrei Gerea, on behalf of ministers in seven other countries including the UK, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
The ministers’ core argument is that many countries would not be able to cost-effectively meet EU climate targets and energy security objectives, without bloc support for new nuclear plant builds and the maintenance of existing reactors.
The cost-effectiveness argument is key, as minutes of a commissioner’s discussion seen by the Guardian indicate that the UK’s planned £17.6bn subsidy for Hinkley was cleared by Brussels partly on the basis that it would have been too expensive to organise a competitive tendering process.
New research to be published on Thursday by the Resilience Centre finds that the government’s plans for a new reactor at Hinkley Point C has had what Cato calls “a chilling effect” on investment in renewable energy in Somerset.
In 2010, Somerset set a relatively low target of 63MW for solar energy capacity by 2020, which it looks likely to exceed. By comparison, neighbouring Devon has a solar energy target of 440MW while Gloucestershire has a goal of 920MW.
But the centre, says that when the lower capacity factors of renewable energy are taken into account, renewables have the potential to generate more than three times the equivalent energy of Hinkley.
Two tidal lagoons off the Somerset coast would be likely to generate 640MW, or 10% of the equivalent energy generated by Hinkley.
The Resilience Centre, which comprises technical renewable energy experts and environmental engineers, pegs Somerset’s onshore and marine generating capacity from renewables at 5.4GW – around 60% of Hinkley’s output.
But the joint ministerial letter insists that nuclear power should be allowed to play a role alongside renewables and energy efficiency in a decarbonised, secure and competitive energy market. “As of December 2014, nuclear provided 53% of the EU’s carbon-free electricity,” it says.
Read more at UK joins Romanian push for new EU nuclear aid package