Evidence has emerged of the ‘chilling effect’ that Hinkley C will have on the development of the renewables industry, say green campaigners. This follows revelations that Western Power has notified its business customers that installing additional grid capacity will be delayed by 3 to 6 years. In the circular, the company states:
‘We have now reached the point where one of the most critical 132kV routes in the South West is now up to its full capacity. This route is referred to as F-route. It runs 82km from Bridgwater Grid Supply Point (GSP) to Seabank GSP (in the Bristol docks area), comprising two separate circuits carried on steel towers.’ It adds: ‘We now have to apply restrictions to our connection offers’.
Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West, who warned at a conference recently of the devastating effects Hinkley would have on the growth of the renewables sector in the region, said:
“In spite of arguments to the contrary by the Energy Secretary, it was always clear that the focus on Hinkley would undermine the ability of renewable companies to develop alternative sources of electricity generation. I am very concerned that while the legal battle over Hinkley continues, companies seeking to install solar, biogas, or wind power will not have access to the grid capacity they require. This will lead to the loss of many thousands of jobs.”
Andrew Clarke, of the Resilience Centre in the Forest of Dean, has been investigating the potential for renewable energy in the South West. He said:
“Research we have carried out for Molly Scott Cato demonstrates the huge potential for new jobs offered by the wealth of renewable resources we have here in the South West. The flourishing renewable energy sector is threatened as a result of Government policy and unfair practices on grid operation which favour centralised energy generation, especially nuclear. All spare generation capacity on the grid in the South West, equivalent to 190% of existing generation capacity, has been reserved and we believe a significant part of this is as a result of the building of Hinkley C. This is preventing proven renewable energy schemes from accessing the grid and threatens local jobs and businesses.”
The grid restrictions that Western Power are implementing do not apply to renewable energy schemes currently under development and with grid offers already in place.