Taxpayers off the hook for cost of new plants
(NucNet) The British government will not use taxpayers’ money to subsidize the construction of new nuclear power plants, Philip Hunt, (right) minister of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change said Jan 21.
In an online question and answer session with ‘The Guardian’ newspaper, Lord Hunt said the government had made it “absolutely clear” that the cost of new nuclear power plants must be met in full by the commercial companies themselves, including the cost of decommissioning and waste management.
He said that before the go-ahead is given for new nuclear power plants the government will have to be satisfied that effective arrangements exist to manage and dispose of the waste.
“I can assure you that included in that will be safe, and secure interim storage of radioactive waste on site, followed by disposal in a geological facility,” Lord Hunt said.
Lord Hunt said he expected a large number of companies based in the UK to be involved in the development of new nuclear. “A huge amount of the investment in new nuclear will be spent in the UK and thousands of British workers will benefit from employment opportunities.”
He said the government expects the first new units to be up and running around 2018. “So far companies have said they aspire to up to 16GW, which would provide energy for 16 million homes.”
Lord Hunt said the UK has been “keeping a very close eye on what has been happening in Finland” with construction of the Olkiluoto-3 Areva European pressurised water reactor. That's why the UK plans to ensure the reactor “is licensed before we start building it, rather than trying to license as it is being built.”
In its draft national policy statements the UK has listed 10 sites which it says are potentially suitable for new nuclear power plants.
British Energy Sale No Guarantee Of New Build, Says Report
(NucNet) The British government received a good price when selling its interest in British Energy to EDF, but it is too early to say whether the sale will lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants “from the earliest possible date and with no public subsidy”, according to a report released Jan 22 by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The government watchdog’s report points out that there was no condition on the sale that would ensure the new owners will build the next generation of nuclear plants. Also, if EDF cannot pay for all the clean up costs, the government is still liable.
But he said there was no guarantee that government will not have to step in at some point to help pay for the construction and decommissioning costs.
Whether new units are built in the UK with no public subsidy depends on a number of factors, many outside EDF’s control, says the report. These factors include wider economic and market considerations such as the price of carbon; the achievement of all necessary consents, including the design of new power plants; and EDF’s overall strategic priorities and financial position.
Mr Morse said: “The Department of Energy and Climate Change now needs to make real progress on its contingency plans should EDF be unwilling to build new nuclear plants.”
British Energy was the largest independent energy generator in the UK and owner of sites viewed by industry as the most suitable for new nuclear power plants.
The government sold its 36% interest in the company to EDF Energy for 4.4 billion pounds (7.1 billion US dollars, 5 billion euro) in January 2009. The final cash offer from EDF was 10% higher than the valuation by the government agency that managed the sale.
The report says EDF’s acquisition of British Energy has improved the prospect of investment in new nuclear plants because British Energy was not financially strong enough to make such investments itself.
EDF has announced plans to build four new nuclear units on nuclear sites at Sizewell in eastern England and Hinkley Point in the southwest.
The sale has also secured the viability and continued safe operation of British Energy’s existing nuclear power plants, the report says.
The full report is on the NAO website
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