Five questions answered on comments from Ineos boss that Hinkley power will be "expensive"

How much will energy from Hinkley cost?

The boss of manufacturers Ineos - one of the UK's biggest energy consumers - has warned that energy produced from the planned Hinkley Point C power station will be too expensive for business. We answer five questions on Ineos’s boss’s comments.

What exactly has Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe said?

Speaking to the BBC Ratcliffe said UK manufacturers would not find the price of energy from Hinkley affordable.

Mr Ratcliffe said: "The UK probably has the most expensive energy in the world."

"It is more expensive than Germany, it is more expensive than France, it is much, much, more expensive than America. It is not competitive at all, on the energy front, I am afraid."

How much will energy from Hinkley cost?

The government has signed a deal with France-based EdF to pay a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh) for 35 years. EdF is developing the station with the backing of Chinese investors.

Ineos owns the Grangemouth power plant in Scotland and has recently agreed a deal for nuclear power in France at 45 euros (£37.94) per Mwh. However, the world nuclear association pointed out this deal was for an unknown duration whereas the government’s deal with EdF is for 35 years.

What have other experts said?

The World Nuclear Association told the BBC: "It should be pointed out that France has the highest proportion of nuclear in its generation mix and lower than average EU power prices, so there is nothing automatically expensive about nuclear power.”

In October John Cridland, director-general of business lobby group the CBI, speaking to the BBC said:

"It's important to remember this investment will help mitigate the impact of increasing costs. The fact is whatever we do, energy prices are going to have to go up to replace ageing infrastructure and meet climate change targets - unless we build new nuclear as part of a diverse energy mix."

However, Dr Paul Dorfman, from the Energy Institute at University College London, added: "what it equates to actually is a subsidy and the coalition said they would never subsidise nuclear".

How much energy will Hinkley provide when it is up and running?

Once developed Hinkley will provide 7 per cent of the UK’s energy mix. It will cost £16 billion to build and is expected to be ready by 2023.

How is Ineos currently doing, wasn’t it going to close a short while ago?

Yes, the company had announced in October the permanent closure of the Grangemouth plant in Scotland, which would have affected 800 jobs. However, when a bitter dispute between Ineos and the unions was called off it was announced that the plant would stay open.

However, Ratcliffe has said that Ineos, which will be the first company to import shale gas from the UK, was on a “knife edge” since that troublesome time.

He told the BBC: "I think Grangemouth has the prospect of a very good future if it can get through the next three years."

"Attitude on the site is much more positive and you can see people are really anxious to move on."

Grangemouth provides 70 per cent of the fuel used at Scotland's filling stations.

Chairman of INEOS, Jim Ratcliffe. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.