The price of electricity is set to double if the UK Government continues down the road to nuclear power.
George Osborne is ready to strike a deal that would see the Chinese state fund a French state-owned nuclear energy firm build a new N-power plant at Hinkley Point, just across the Severn from Cardiff.
'The UK will be agreeing to buy electricity from Hinkley Point for 35-40 years at £93 per megawatt hour or thereabouts, according to the whisper from Westminster.That is roughly twice the current market rate for electricity, and far in excess of the £40 per megawatt hour that was airily waved around by the Department of Energy only half a decade ago.
Nuclear power, it seems, can only be bought at a cost roughly equivalent to on-shore wind, complete with its subsidies to landowners. Maybe that is the price that has to be paid for secure low-carbon supplies, but at current energy prices, the first impact of Hinkley Point will be to add to consumers' bills, just as wind does today.
"In the long term," the chancellor continued, new nuclear should lead to "lower and more stable energy bills."
The key phrase there is "long term". The claim rests on the assumption that the costs of other sources of energy will continue to rise and make £93 appear a bargain sometime in the future. That assumption may or may not prove correct – but coming from a government that supposedly thinks fracking will revolutionise the energy market, it's a strange argument to hear.
But is £93 the real cost anyway? The devil will be in the detail of this contract – specifically, in the indexation formula for the strike price. If Hinkley Point's entire output is tied to the rate of inflation for 40 years, we could be staring at a truly astronomical cost by the end of the contract.'
This week's Private Eye also warns that the UK Government is attempting to soften the blow by allowing off-shore wind schemes to get three times the current rate for electricity with tidal lagoons - a real prospect for Wales - getting SIX times the current cost.
All window dressing to make nuclear more reasonable.