Can wind and solar power the nation alone?


With the Hinkley Point nuclear power station being put on hold it has opened up the debate about whether it makes financial sense for it to continue at all. Theresa May who recently delayed the decision to sign off on the project in Somerset wants to re-evaluate the options.

A report that hasn’t yet been published by the energy department indicates, for the first time, that electricity from wind and solar could be significantly cheaper per megawatt hour than energy from the proposed nuclear option.

Since the forecasts for costing energy production, which were last carried out in 2010 and 2013 the price of solar panels has been reduced substantially, and advancements in technology has meant the performance of solar panels has increased. Whereas the nuclear project at Hinkley has become more expensive than originally expected, and there is still potential for the costs to rise further.

The report shows it expects power from renewables to be around the £50-£75 per megawatt hour mark while nuclear is expected to cost £85-£125 per megawatt hour.

The nuclear option could also be looked at unfavourably due to the amount of foreign ownership by the French company EDF and the heavy financial involvement from the Chinese. Many people believe this could be a point of tension in a future world where anything might happen.

For the end user who will ultimately pay for this through their bills, selecting the most cost effective option is vital. Take away environmental issues, employment issues and political issues and cost will probably be the driving factor in deciding if we continue with the nuclear plan or decide again to push for renewables.