The pulling out of Hitachi from the proposed Wylva nuclear power plant is a good thing for energy policy – not a serious blow as said in the article (Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales, 18 January). Nuclear power is now one of the most expensive form of electricity there is. But beyond the economics, it no longer fits with the digitalising world that we live in. The global energy system is undergoing change similar to that in telecoms and computers over the last few decades. The energy system is becoming smarter and more flexible and it is on the path to being operated in a completely different way than hitherto because of that.
Nuclear – with its huge, inflexible output – is the equivalent of a giant boulder in the middle of a motorway. We, the energy customers of Britain, would have ended up paying way over the odds for Wylva, which would have also undermined the UK’s move to a smart and flexible system – which really is the future. We are already going to do that for Hinkley Point C.
Going down the nuclear route has been a wasted decade for UK energy policy. Exiting from the EU and the loss of flexibility we may end up with because of difficulties to do with interconnectors and market arrangements is a far greater threat to security than some phantom nuclear power plant from a previous age.
Professor of energy policy, University of Exeter