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Hinkley Point C and the Austrian government challenge

6 July 2015

The action taken today by the Austrian government is supposedly to challenge the decision by the European Commission to approve the Contract for Difference mechanism proposed for Hinkley Point C.

However, the true motivation of the action was revealed by Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann, who last week issued a statement (1) saying:

"This is a further important step in our anti-nuclear policy, whose long-term objective is a nuclear-free Europe."

He went on to say; "This action is not only to suspend the aid, but also as a deterrent to investors, not only in Britain but throughout Europe"

Austria's attempt to impose its national energy policy on others is wrong, both in principle, and because of the harm it would do to Europe's efforts to tackle climate change.

Nuclear energy supplies 27% of Europe's electricity, by far the largest single source of low carbon generation. Without nuclear energy's contribution Europe's position as a leader in action on climate change would be in tatters.

Faymann makes extraordinary claims about the carbon reduction potential of nuclear energy. He claims that; "Compared to wind, water or solar energy nuclear energy is not only expensive, but also in its CO2 footprint distant second behind these forms of energy .

This is quite simply incorrect. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) most recent assessment report (2) recognised the low carbon nature of nuclear generation. A  review (3) of over twenty different assessments of the full lifecycle emissions of nuclear energy carried out by the World Nuclear Association also confirmed that nuclear generation and renewables have similar low levels of carbon emissions. Nuclear generation has the additional benefit of reliable, 24-7 generation compared to many intermittent renewables, which are also often reliant on backup fossil fuel generation.

The CfD strike price for Hinkley Point C is also among the lowest proposed, lower than those on offer to solar and off-shore wind, demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of nuclear generation as a climate change mitigation option.

Hinkley Point will provide a clean, secure and affordable source of electricity for around five million homes It will also support around 900 jobs at the new power stations for more than 60 years and around 25,000 employment opportunities throughout the build for nearly a decade. (4)

  1. https://www.bka.gv.at/site/cob__59880/currentpage__0/8169/default.aspx
  2. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg3/index.php?idp=128
  3. http://world-nuclear.org/World-Nuclear-Association/Publications/Reports/Lifecycle-GHG-Emissions-of-Electricity-Generation/
  4. http://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/hinkley-point-c

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