CCC: Energy policy ‘cannot be dependent on any single project’

Energy policy is about more than just Hinkley and “cannot be dependent on any single project”, the Committee on Climate Change has warned.

The government’s decision to approve the new nuclear plant last week is merely a “starting point” and “there remain significant risks to the delivery”.

Although the committee is focused on the country’s carbon budgets and “does not comment on specific projects”, it does monitor their efficacy, it said in a statement.

“It has taken about 10 years to get the project at Hinkley Point to its current stage. Over that period, estimates of total cost have risen and the time required to realise the project has increased.” Completing the project on time and on budget will require oversight by “successive governments, parliaments and public and private sector bodies”.

“A prudent energy policy will involve sufficient investment across low-carbon technologies to ensure that power output and carbon targets can be met given the risk of delays at Hinkley,” it added.

The committee said there are “a number of ways” in which new nuclear could help to cut emissions, but there are also “many mixes” of low-carbon technologies which could be used to decarbonise the power sector.

It continued: “These will all require a combination of demand-side flexibility, storage, interconnection, and modern transmission and distribution networks to deliver them at least cost. It is crucial that these are pursued with vigour, alongside spending on nuclear.”

The comments echo those of former energy secretary Ed Davey, who last week told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that the government was making a “huge error” by “putting all the nation’s eggs in the nuclear and gas basket”.