SEUK: Belectric UK chief challenges Barker’s nuclear cost claim

The UK head of leading German solar EPC firm Belectric has disputed suggestions by energy minister Greg Barker that solar energy is still more expensive than nuclear.

Speaking at Solar Energy UK this morning, Barker said that despite the dramatic fall in the costs of solar PV in recent years, the technology was still more expensive than nuclear, other renewables such as onshore wind, and fossil fuels.

But in an address at SEUK after the minster, Toddington Harper, chief executive of Belectric’s UK arm, challenged the minister’s assertion.

“I don’t believe it is [more expensive],” he said. “There are a lot of people who think that if you take into account the recycling costs and the decommissioning costs of nuclear energy, which potentially outweigh the value of the energy it’s produced, one could make a very different argument.

“So if there is the belief in government, particularly in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, that nuclear is cheaper than solar, it’s important for us to get the message across that that’s not necessarily the case.

"And with fossil fuels, it’s important to remember that they’re just basically stored sunlight. When they were plentifully available they were very low cost; now they’re not so available we’re having to use fracking and so on to get it out of the ground, and it’s getting more expensive. So it’s important to emphasise that not only is the cost of solar coming down, but also the costs of these other energy sources are very high and increasing.”

Belectric, sponsor of the Large-scale feature area at SEUK, has built some of the world’s largest PV plants, including the 128MW Templin project in Germany.