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Prime Minister: nuclear is the niche, not renewables

wind turbines in cornwall

In a recent blog, Jonathon Porritt opened: “I’m always rather heartened by the fact that the Prime Minister takes his holidays in Cornwall – for the simple reason that at least once a year he gets to see wind turbines in action, happily churning around (as they do most of the time in Cornwall) . . . But I wish these holidays would simultaneously stiffen his somewhat flaccid sinews in terms of sorting out the mess that is this country’s energy policy. Not just on wind, and other renewables, but on nuclear, fracked gas, energy efficiency, prices, regulation etc etc etc”.

In July 150 ‘solar champions’ wrote to the Prime Minister in support of an appeal from the Solar Trade Association to stop disadvantaging this country’s amazingly resilient solar industry. He replied that large-scale solar PV, under the Renewables Obligation, is deploying much faster than previously expected and can’t be allowed to go on because of the impact on consumer bills.

Is this a sick joke?

Jonathon, one of the 150, points out the glaring inconsistency of such a reply from a Prime Minister who has personally authorised the allocation of vast sums of public money to build the most expensive power stations in the world at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Mr Cameron: solar and wind are not ‘niche’ interests in Germany

He continues, “the PM’s letter arrived on the very same day that the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany published a new report showing that Germany generated 31% of its electricity from renewable energy sources throughout the first six months of 2014:

  • The country’s solar power plants increased total production by 28%
  • and wind by 19% compared with the same period in 2013.
  • Consumption of coal was down 4%,
  • nuclear down 2%,
  • and natural gas down 25%.

“Meanwhile, as Germany so powerfully demonstrates, if keep on consistently ramping up investment in wind, solar and biomass (all of which get cheaper every year, and require less and less government support as a result), you get greater energy security, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and (in due course) an excellent deal for the consumer . . . “.

Jonathon Porritt also asks why nuclear energy companies aren’t being required to compete in the same game, if the government is so keen on cost-effectiveness:

“Why are they not required to put in their bids against solar, wind, biomass, other renewables and energy from waste?”

Read on for his answer, for news of the ‘Contracts for Difference’ which will replace the outgoing Renewables Obligation and for a reference to Cameron’s ‘madcap fracking fantasy’. He ends:

“Come, on, David. See those wind turbines for what they really are next time you’re down in Cornwall. It’s nuclear that’s the niche, not renewables”.