5. august 2016 - 12:40

Look to Norway

The controversy surrounding the new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C (HPC) reached new heights last week. We propose taking a step back, and to gauge the options: One of which is purchasing electricity from actually renewable sources from one of your best neighbours, at a fraction of the cost of the proposed plant.

National Grid, and its Norwegian equivalent Statnett, have started work on one interconnector between Norway and the UK. Named the North Sea Link, it will have a capacity of 1400 MW and could potentially deliver roughly the equivalent of 50% of the energy HPC is expected to deliver. Yet another interconnector, the North Connect project, is under planning, connecting our countries' energy systems even closer together. The two interconnectors could deliver an amount of energy to the UK corresponding to HPC’s proposed output; with two major differences: The energy delivered would be renewable, and it would be cheap.

HPC is expected to cost £18bn. The subsidies over its lifetime through the CfDs is estimated at roughly £30bn. At the time of writing, the Day Base price of electricity in the UK is £46/MWh, whereas HPC's CfDs guarantee a price of £92,5/MWh. Two interconnectors would cost somewhere in the range of £3bn. The system price in Norway is £22/MWh. There is capacity in our electricity systems to add even more interconnectors, but these are long-term investments that demand political commitment.

What's not to love?

Production from HPC will correspond to around 7% of total current UK production of electricity. It is power that will ensure security of supply for UK homes and businesses, and which will contribute to the electrification of UK industry and transport. The security of supply is paramount. Considering how 50% of total European hydro storage capacity lies in Norway, our reserves present realistic alternatives to subsidised nuclear power.  

So what's in it for us? When Statnett made its calculations on the economy of establishing new capacity between Norway and its European neighbours, they estimated the revenues at 70-90 million € (£60-75 million) yearly for each 1,400 MW interconnector. On the other side, each new interconnector will reduce the price of electricity in the UK, to the benefit of the UK consumer.

HPC will also be adding to the overall available power in the UK. However, the huge cost of producing that power will be levied on the UK tax payer through the £92,5 CfDs. We're not under false pretence: We have vested interest in the increase in exports of Nordic renewable electricity to the UK. In the interest of the environment, and both our economies, we think you should be too.

The proposition alternate to the huge subsidies and the new nuclear reactors, is establishing additional interconnectors to a market with a surplus of electricity, and with the natural resources and space to cheaply build more renewable production in the coming decades. We hope the new British government, with a post Brexit-vote mandate, will look to Norway when it is now considering what to do next.

Daniel Willoch -                 
Daniel J. Willoch -        Andreas T. Aasheim -


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