NUCLEAR power stations are economically viable without government guarantee or subsidy, the chief executive of British Energy claimed yesterday. The head of the company that supplies a fifth of Britain’s electricity said that the cost of replacing ageing nuclear generators was highly competitive compared with funding new gas powered stations, lean coal stations and other technologies, including some sources of renewable power.
Times 21st June 2006
As the government moves towards its expected formal pronouncement next month in favour of resuming the building of new nuclear power reactors, Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, yesterday stepped up his party’s opposition to this move. This is predictable, and nothing like as important as which side of the nuclear fence the Tory party will eventually come down on. However, in spite of coming to the wrong conclusion, Sir Menzies raised the legitimate doubt of whether new reactors could be built “without massive state subsidies” or “rigging the market” to guarantee future prices.
FT Editorial 21st June 2006
The UK’s third largest political party, the Liberal Democrats, has echoed the recent warnings of the former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev that nuclear power is not economically viable.
Energy Business Review 21st June 2006
British Energy yesterday became the latest voice to insist that a new generation of nukes could be privately financed without subsidy. This is an almost laughably optimistic claim, the sort of triumph of hope over experience which has long been the hallmark of this extraordinarily costly form of power generation. A number of recent studies have pointed to favourable cost comparisons with other forms of “clean” energy – renewables and clean coal – and even some forms of carbon emitting power generation, but these are in the main just self-serving assertions which would never pass muster once the City began to run its slide rule over the assumptions on which they are based. The industry’s intention is to get a clear-cut commitment to nuclear out of ministers first. Costs can be debated later. It wouldn’t pay to frighten the horses by admitting the industry will in fact need very substantial Government support before they even get to the starting gates. British Energy insists that the only support that would be necessary would be decent long-term contracts with retail suppliers. These could be commercially negotiated. Oh really? Why would Centrica and other retailers want to sign up to such sources of supply when there is no way of knowing that nuclear would be, and would remain, price competitive with other forms of power generation? For obvious reasons, the industry refuses to admit that there is really only one way of ensuring a new generation of privately financed nuclear plants, and that is to place a nuclear obligation on suppliers, similar to the existing renewables obligation, which would force them to source a proportion of their power from nuclear. This, of course, would be a nuclear tax in all but name, tantamount to a Government guarantee. Certainly it would be a profound interference in the market. But please let’s not call a spade a spade when we don’t have to.
Independent 21st June 2006
The government intends to fund a new generation of nuclear power station through massive hidden subsidies, Sir Menzies Campbell has said. The Liberal Democrats leader made the comments as his party published a document arguing that nuclear power is unaffordable and unnecessary.
Telegraph 21st June 2006
ePolitix 20th June 2006
Manchester Evening News 20th June 2006
BBC 20th June 2006
Predicting the direction of government policy over a few weeks is hard enough these days. Guessing what the regulatory landscape might look like three decades from now is best left to the brave or the foolhardy. For this reason alone, Labour’s latest conversion to nuclear energy is unlikely to attract private sector investors prepared to put up the necessary billions of pounds without a serious change of style.
FT 21st June 2006