Utility Week

Utility Week 13th October 2017

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 13TH - 19TH OCTOBER 2017 | 9 Policy & Regulation What is the future of the UK's nuclear safeguarding arrange- ments post-Brexit? "If there was ever a policy area in which there was an over- whelming common interest in having sensible arrangements in place between us and our European neighbours, it is the nuclear sector. There is no advantage having a fractured relationship: having a cordial and smooth set of relationships is important at every level. We host many of Europe's most prestigious research and devel- opment facilities and with the Hinkley Point C power station, EDF has a big interest in keeping those arrangement as smooth as possible." Will nuclear be sidelined as too expensive following the fall in offshore wind prices? "It's fantastic news that prices have dropped: it's a dividend from a strategic approach where we took the view to not only drive down the costs of offshore wind but create industrial benefits. As the price comes down, that will be a benefit to consumer bills. Policy & Regulation The future of nuclear power At a Conservative party conference fringe event, energy secretary Greg Clark answered questions from the nuclear industry lobby about the future of nuclear power in the UK – and his own future in government. Q&A Greg Clark Energy secretary published in the next few weeks. However, while he said CCS was "not forgotten about", Harrington added that "progress has been slower than we would have hoped". A warmer embrace of low-carbon energy did not equate to a blank cheque for the more expensive and experimental technolo- gies, the minister cautioned. Directly addressing his predecessor as energy minister, Charles Hendry, who sub- mitted a report earlier this year champion- ing the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, said every government had limited resources to commit to subsidies. Harrington said the point of subsidy was to get technologies to a point where they could stand on their own two feet, as had been achieved with offshore wind. "The con- cern is that sections of industry think that there is a long-term entitlement to subsidy," he added. Harrington also gave some succour to the nuclear industry, which has been battered by negative headlines in the wake of the recent contracts for difference auctions, which showed such a dramatic fall in the cost of energy. "We won't accept that just because wind has come down so much, which is fantastic, that that suddenly rules out nuclear. Our policy is to have a mix of different sources of energy," he said. Iberdrola share price, 5 day (€) Eon share price, 5 day (€) EDF share price, 5 day (€) RWE share price, 5 day (€) SSE share price, 5 day (pence) 6.6 6.5 6.4 6.3 6.2 6.6 6.5 6.4 6.3 6.2 10.8 10.6 10.4 10.2 10.0 19.8 19.6 19.4 19.2 19.0 1,440 1,420 1,400 1,380 1,360 3 Oct 4 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 9 Oct 3 Oct 4 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 9 Oct 3 Oct 4 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 9 Oct 3 Oct 4 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 9 Oct 3 Oct 4 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 9 Oct "But you need to have a mix. Winston Churchill talked about diversity alone and diversity alone being the guarantor of energy security. There will always be times when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining." With a lot of coal and nuclear power stations coming to the end of their life, do we need fast-track planning for energy projects? "We don't have exclusive foresight of these opportunities: every other country in the world sees the potential of them. We need to be more agile than we have been and that includes planning and getting the right rules in place." How can the nuclear skills gap be remedied? "If we are inaugurating a new generation of nuclear power stations there is a whole set of requirements that flow. We need trained engineers and technicians. As a consequence of not having had a nuclear pro- gramme for a generation, a lot of them are close to retirement or have to be brought in from elsewhere. Part of the agreement for the Hinkley Point C power station was to create new skills that would be available for the whole industry." Do you have ambitions for promotion within govern- ment? "With every job from becoming a Member of Parliament to becom- ing a minister, I was so thrilled that I have thrown myself into it. I don't intend to look around."

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