[ YET ANOTHER UPDATE : Hinkley Point C, if it ever reaches the point of producing grid power, will only generate 2.2% of Britain’s total energy use (excluding transport fuel). SEE COMMENTS. ]
[ A FURTHER UPDATE AGAIN : Neil Crumpton of Planet Hydrogen calculates that for a typical mix of onshore and offshore wind turbines, a total of 2,400 wind turbines would be needed to match the power output from Hinkley C, not the 6,000 projected by DECC. SEE COMMENTS. ]
[ IN ANOTHER QUIRKY TURN OF FACTS : The UK’s subsidy commitment to Hinkley C could amount to sales for EdF of £2.59 billion a year – to provide just 2.2% of the nation’s total energy. Now that’s not a very good bargain, in my view. The money could be better used otherwise. ]
Can one ickle-biddy-teensy-weensy nuclear power plant displace the need for 30,000 wind turbines ? Really ?
David Cameron went LEGO ™ yesterday in full workman’s uniform and shiny building site safety helmet to announce the deal for the Hinkley Point C new nuclear reactor. He challenged Vlad’mir Putin in the manliness stakes, even. Much revere.
But some of the other people on his team made a good show of clowning around, in my view, including what looks like a miscalculation from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Pull out your big desk calculators, people, this one is surely up for the questioning of.
According to this :-
Hinkley Point C will have 2 of 1,750 MW steam turbines for the generation of electrical power, i.e. a total of 3.5 GW.
An average wind turbine capacity these days, onshore, is, well, increasing, but let’s take an average.
The UK currently has “4,998 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 10 gigawatts: 6,368 megawatts of onshore capacity and 3,653 megawatts of offshore capacity” according to Wikipedia.
Wikipedia also says there are 2,620 onshore wind turbines, so an average of 2.4 MW each.
How many turbines of a similar size would you need, at 30% of nameplate capacity (0.72 MW), to beat 3.5 GW ? 4,861 turbines. So, the Minister, or the Ministry, or perhaps the Daily Telegraph if they’ve misread the briefing, might be out by a factor of 6.
[ UPDATE : This is a case of the newspaper headline misquoting the official briefing. The article says “The government has disclosed that the new reactors at Hinkley B in Somerset alone will produce the same amount of energy as 6,000 wind turbines built on 250,000 acres of land.” Now, assuming they meant “Hinkley C”, at 3.2 GW and at 90% reliability, it would produce the equivalent power to displace 4,000 turbines of 2.4 MW each. Where does the 6,000 wind turbines idea come from ? ]
[ UPDATE 2 : Hinkley Point C may take up only 430 acres of space, but will have a much large land footprint in total. First off, there’s the land that will be required for the radioactive waste depository, wherever that turns out to be. Then there’s all the despoiled land from uranium mining. What ? It’s in other countries, so it doesn’t count ? Then there’s the land required for the uranium ore processing and refining facilities. And to cap it all, once a piece of land has been used for the nuclear power project and the mines and facilities it depends on, much of that land could be lost permanently. With wind power, if you want the land back, you can have it if you need it. No radioactive waste. No massive concrete edifices. No spent fuel ponds. No cancer-causing mine tailing ponds… ]
[ UPDATE 3 : The Government infographic issued with the press release suggests that the 6,000 wind turbines prevented by Hinkley C would take up 250,000 acreas. Does anybody really believe that each of the 6,000 wind turbines that Hinkley C might prevent each take up 42 acres of space ? That’s genuinely unbelievable. No, it’s ridiculous. ]
[ UPDATE 4 : I’ve worked out why DECC thinks that 6,000 wind turbines would be needed to match the output of a 3.2 GW nuclear power station – they are assuming that the wind turbines can only be counted on for around about 20% of the time. If all the turbines are rated as 2.4 MW, and they can only be counted on for 22% of that, each turbine would have an effective (de-rated) capacity of 0.528 MW, meaning that to make the equivalent of a 3.2 GW plant, you would need 6,060 wind turbines. ]
Nuclear power station will avoid ‘blight’ of 30,000 wind turbines, minister says
A new generation of nuclear power stations will avoid the “blight” of
building tens of thousands of wind turbines in the countryside, a
minister has said.
Britain’s first new nuclear power station in a generation is to be
built under a £16 billion project which will create thousands of new
By Steven Swinford, Senior Political Correspondent
21 Oct 2013
The government has defended a decision to hand a French company
billions of pounds in subsidies to build Britain’s first new nuclear
power plant for a generation.
Ministers said they want to build a new generation of 12 new nuclear
reactors to ensure that people can “turn on the kettle” and to help
“keep the lights on”.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said that Britain would
need to build more than 30,000 onshore wind turbines to produce the
same amount of energy, seven times the number currently in operation.
Michael Fallon, the Conservative energy minister, said that nuclear
power stations will ultimately prove a cheaper and less controversial
He told The Daily Telegraph: “This is the first in a wave of new
nuclear plants to replace the ageing fleet that Labour did nothing to
“Without new nuclear local people would face many thousands more wind
farms blighting our landscape. By contrast, nuclear power is popular
in areas that have existing stations and will deliver significant jobs
The deal, which prompted warnings that household bills could rise to
cover the costs of building the plant, was announced by David Cameron
during a visit to Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Experts have warned that Britain is facing an energy crisis, with all
but one of the country’s nuclear power station stations due to close
The government has disclosed that the new reactors at Hinkley B in
Somerset alone will produce the same amount of energy as 6,000 wind
turbines built on 250,000 acres of land.
Ministers hope to meet Britain’s future energy needs by building 12
reactors across five sites.
However, despite agreement between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives
on the need for new nuclear power stations Mr Fallon’s comments are
still likely to provoke a Coalition split.
The Conservatives are opposed to building more onshore wind farms,
with David Cameron saying earlier this year that he “wouldn’t expect”
many more to be built in Britain.
The Liberal Democrats only accepted building nuclear power stations as
part of their party policy at their conference last month and highly
supportive of wind energy.
In contrast to Mr Fallon’s comments Ed Davey, the energy secretary,
said that onshore wind turbines remained “very competitive” and that
their costs were continuing to fall.
The deal to build the £14 billion Hinkley Point plant in Somerset with
French company EDF Energy has provoked a new row over rising energy
The government is guaranteeing the price for each megawatt hour of
power produced by the plant at £92.50, twice the present wholesale
price, ensuring billions of pounds of income for EDF Energy.
Analysts have suggested that the move could increase household energy
bills by £8 a year, but Mr Davey yesterday said it would be cheaper
than building wind turbines instead.
He claimed that a new generation of nuclear power stations will reduce
the average British energy bill by £77 a year from 2030. He admitted
however, that he could not “guarantee” that people’s household bills
He said: “There’s huge amounts of uncertainties here. What’s the gas
price going to do, how quickly will the cost of wind power go down.
Will we get carbon capture and storage to be commercially viable?
These are inherent uncertainties.”
Mr Davey said that building the power station will create jobs for
25,000 people, although he was unable to confirm how many will be for
The debate over the scale of the subsidy for EDF comes as the company
prepares to raise prices for its 5 million customers. On Monday Npower
became the latest energy company to raise prices, announcing that
customers will face a hike of 10.4 per cent.
Mr Davey confirmed he confronted EDF executives about price rises in
the back of a car on the way back from Hinkley Point yesterday. They
declined to tell him if they were raising prices.
Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF Energy, claimed the
company had yet to make a decision but insisted that any price rise
would be at the “lowest possible level”.
Mr Davey yesterday insisted that consumers would be protected from any
hikes in costs and that EDF Energy would share in the “pain”.
He also dismissed security concerns over Chinese investment in British
nuclear power stations.
Under the deal, the China Nuclear Power Group and China National
Nuclear Corporation will investing in the scheme. However Bob Stewart,
a back-bench Tory MP, said: “I am really concerned. We are in a benign
environment at the moment but say things turn out quite differently,
we could be running risks with our infrastructure”.
Mr Davey said: “We are moving to a new era where we can work with the
Chinese and indeed other foreign states.”
During a visit to Hinkley Point, Mr Cameron said: “This government has
a long-term economic plan for Britain, and we’re delivering, including
this vital nuclear power station which we hope will be the first of
several other nuclear power stations, kick-starting again this
industry, providing thousands of jobs and providing long-term safe and
secure supplies of electricity far into the future.”
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will announce
that an offshore wind farm off the Scottish coast is among
infrastructure projects in line for Government financial guarantees.
The Neart Na Gaoithe wind farm in the Forth Estuary is one of a list
of 16 major projects that could get Treasury backing, Mr Alexander