Monday, 11 March 2013

Government set to pay EDF more than twice as much in subsidies as onshore wind?

Stories in the press would have us believe that EDF are about to clinch a deal under which they are paid about £96 per MWh for a 35 year contract for Hinkley C nuclear power station. If so they would be paid more than twice as much in subsidies as onshore windfarms even before EDF's demands for 'underwriting' their costs are taken into account. Onshore wind is set to be paid no more than around £80 over MWh for a 15 year contract under discussions on the 'strike price' to be paid for wind power under the 'contracts for differences' (CfD) arrangements. So, altogether, the nuclear power plant will receive a lot more than double the subsidy levels received by onshore wind power.


And, fresh out on Wednesday 13th March, is a call from four previous Directors of Friends of the Earth for the National Audit Office to investigate the value for money of giving a contract to EDF for Hinkley C at the rumoured figure of close to £100 per MWh for a 30-40 year contract. See and in more detail in a letter to the Prime Minister on

Meanwhile the Government is aiming to pay offshore wind schemes no more than £100 per MWh for just a 15 year contract. So even offshore wind will be getting no more than around half as much subsidies compared to nuclear power even before the subsidy of 'underwriting construction costs' is taken into account.

If EDF's terms are met this will blow a hole a mile wide in Ed Davey's repeated assertions that nuclear power will be paid no more subsidies than are available to other 'low carbon' energy sources. On March 7th Ed Davey said:

'The coalition agreement is clear – new nuclear will receive no levy, direct payment or market support for electricity supplied or capacity provided, unless similar support is also made available more widely to other types of generation. This is about creating a level playing field for all forms of generation, not subsidising nuclear' See

Where exactly is the level playing field or the parity in 'levy, direct payment or market support' if the Government meet EDF's demand?

In fact, though, whilst the media is full of propaganda from EDF, other reports suggest that Treasury is still holding the line at suggesting a strike price of £80 per MWh (for an unknown contract length), which would by coincidence or otherwise, happen to coincide to the headline strike price likely to be offered to onshore wind. So is this just a gesture before capitluation before EDF's demands or is this the Government position? A more nuanced interpretation is that in fact EDF has plenty of supporters within DECC but that the Treasury are the ones who hold the purse strings and will make any final decisions. Meanwhile the EU Transport and Energy Commissioner has been quoted in the Guardian diary as decribing EDF's demands for 35 or 40 year contracts as 'Soviet'.

Seenews reports on: and also the Guardian diary at

Of course the conclusion you can draw from the several years of experience of how the British media constantly soaks up nonsense propaganda from ther nuclear industry about how 'cheap' or 'essential'or 'green'  they are is that the nuclear industry is far, far, far better at public relations than they are at building cost effective and environmentally sustainable energy generation!

The people who should be getting a bit more lattitude in the subsidy game, and to whom extra resources should be diverted are the newer technologies such as tidal stream and wave power and ones that are fast reducing in cost like solar pv and offshore wind, not a bankrupt dirty dinosaur like nuclear power.

As a corrective to all this nonsense you can read a commentary on what is happening in Germany by Catherine Mitchell in In Germany the universities are being enrolled to support this vision - as opposed to the UK where the universities have been encouraged to pursue a 'nuclear is cheap' fantasy.

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