As I go about switching energy suppliers for the second time in a year – hopefully saving me around £450 on my annual dual fuel bill – I was pleased see a report which showed that wind and solar energy are now not only cheaper than nuclear power but are each outstripping nuclear power generation globally. It reveals the government’s folly in building new nuclear capacity. By the time Hinkley C nuclear power station is commissioned (if it ever is) at a cost of £20 billion-plus the price of renewable energy will have tumbled even further. Of course (Freudian slip: I nearly wrote ‘Of curse’) our nuclear imperative has a lot to do with having Trident – the one is economically dependent on the other for survival. The combined cost of building these follies on current estimates is up to £61 billion. However, nuclear has always suffered cost over-runs and there is no reason to suppose this won’t happen again, if one looks at the problems building new nuclear power stations in France and Finland.
One reason I can switch renewable energy suppliers is because there is more competition. That’s a feature you won’t get with nuclear power, which relies on up-front fixed price agreements which lock in the price. Without such agreements, the things would be too expensive to build. So the price of nuclear can’t come down. Renewables like wind and solar are reaching a point when many smaller companies will enter the market, some of them community owned. At some point this should be recognised in what we all pay for electricity (and eventually gas) – to coin a phrase it will become too cheap to meter.