Wind and solar power could challenge nuclear energy
The value of nuclear energy, and in particular the troubled Hinkley Point, is being questioned in light of the possibilities offered by alternative and renewable technologies.
One of Hinkley Point’s main advantages is offering continuous, “on-all-the-time” power. However, technology and its lower costs may be erasing the need for the plant to be built.
One of those technologies is hi-tech battery storage. Currently being researched are lithium-air, sodium-ion and redox flow batteries. These all offer better energy options if developed, and will be cheaper than electricity. Their potential for energy storage will address complaints that wind and solar are intermittent.
The green industry also believes that renewables are cheaper and that they will make the Hinkley project unnecessary. Solarcentury (a solar panel maker) Founder, Jeremy Leggett, said: “Finally the message is getting through that Hinkley, and indeed nuclear, make no sense today simply because wind and solar are cheaper. If we accelerate renewables in the UK, we can get to 100% renewable power well before 2050.”
Hinkley ‘still needed’
Some believe that Hinkley cannot meet supply shortages, and putting money into its development will adversely affect the renewables market.
Hinkley Point is still being defended by the atomic lobby. Nuclear Industry Association Chief Executive and former Labour MP, Tom Greatrex, said: “We should not be pitting technologies against each other. The scale and scope of the challenge means we need all technologies available to meet our energy needs, as 65% of capacity will close between 2010 and 2030.”