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It’s the Way He Tells ‘Em
Chris Huhne has been getting upset again.
This was in response to a Sunday Telegraph article, which said that his plans for the expansion of nuclear and wind power would add 30% to household electricity bills over the next 20 years.
Mr Huhne reckoned that was based on “rubbish” calculations. Why? Because they “did not take into account the eventual savings these different energy sources would bring”.
“Eventual savings”?! Maybe he thinks the nuclear power stations will be a cheap way of turning the windmills when the wind is not blowing.
He had the gall to point out that in France, energy prices were rising by only 3%, because of “a greater use of low-carbon and renewable sources”. That is simple spin. The low carbon and renewable soources he had in mind amount in fact to just one source – nuclear power. More than 80% of France’s electricity comes from nuclear.
Those “low carbon sources” he was praising in France are nuclear power stations. And those low costs exclude most of the actual costs of nuclear power – which are in decommissioning old power stations and disposing of nuclear waste.
In Mr Huhne’s world, nuclear is cheapest. And it is – if you exclude most of the costs.
So what about Mr Huhne’s plans for the UK? He wants to build a total of 8 new nuclear stations in Britain. They will replace Britain’s current nuclear stations as they come to the end of their lives.
However, once they reach the end of their lives is when the real costs begin. Two thirds of the cost of nuclear power comes from decommissioning the stations when they are worn out, and from waste disposal. The government is picking up the tab for all of that – in other words, anything we might save as electricity consumers, we will end up paying as taxpayers.
Save? What am I talking about? Even discounting two thirds of the real costs, nuclear power is still more expensive than gas-fired power.
Regardless of the safety case, nuclear power is massively expensive. That is why private sector companies will only build nuclear power stations if the government picks up those decommissioning and waste disposal costs – and even then require the government to guarantee the price of the electricity they will produce.
Nuclear power was developed for just one reason – to make the materials for nuclear bombs during the Cold War. Electricity was a by-product, useful for defraying the costs of the ballistic missile warheads.
Don’t even start on Mr Huhne’s windmills. They’re great if consumers are nice enough to use power only when the wind is blowing at the right speed.
Wind power is also highly competitive in Mr Huhne’s world – because he imposes extra taxes on other kinds of power, and gives a subsidy to wind.
Mr Huhne is also spending £11.3 billion of other people’s (which means our) money on putting a smart meter in every home, so that we can all see that we are using less electricity if we turn our appliances off.
All this pales into insignificance, of course, compared with Mr Huhne’s master stroke of his FiT scheme, under which the government makes it worth people’s while to generate power from solar panels, at a real cost of around five times as much as conventional power.
And yet Mr Huhne himself rejected the Severn Barrage, which would have produced tidal power from the Severn Estuary at a far cheaper cost than nuclear. At the time
the [government's] feasibility report found it would be difficult to attract private investment and the project represented “high risk”.
Whereas nuclear power stations, for which the government is picking up two thirds of the bill, are “funded by private investment”.
Here is what the Telegraph itself had to say on the matter:
[The government] believes switching to nuclear and wind makes sense because European Union-led taxes on gas and coal power generation will increase the costs of fossil fuel generation.
Combined with further green taxes, such as the European emissions trading scheme, and extra upgrades to the UK’s electricity network, the measures could see Britain’s gas and electricity bills rise more like 50pc – or £500 – according to Ofgem, the energy regulator.
Thus it appears that Mr Huhne’s “eventual savings” that he is promising from his lunatic energy policy, consist of avoiding EU penalty payments that we could avoid quite easily by leaving the EU. Mr Huhne would never countenance that, of course, because as well as being an incompetent Energy Secretary, he is also a fanatical Europhile.
The government’s energy policy is an utter, complete, dog’s breakfast. And Mr Huhne is the man responsible.
How long before David Cameron has the guts to sack him? Dream on. Mr Cameron loves those windmills and those nuclear power stations, and indeed the EU, every bit as much as Mr Huhne does.