Consumers could pay for new nuclear power plants years before they are built. The government is considering using a controversial financing system to build new nuclear power stations which would see customers charged for construction costs long before a project has actually been built. The approach, called the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model, has been described as an “open cheque book” for developers, as consumers could be locked into paying the costs of a project going wrong – like construction taking longer than planned, or prices spiraling – indefinitely until it’s complete. Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead MP said: “The problem with this model as applied to new nuclear power stations is that it transfers all the risk of construction from the developer to the customers, with the rather wobbly promise of benefits to come in the future.” Like other public-private finance models, the RAB model has a sticky history. The government has already supported the use of RAB for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4.2bn project to revamp 15 miles of sewer lines in North London, which Thames Water says a RAB model has helped lower costs. Much of the work around taking a RAB approach to financing nuclear power has been carried out by Dieter Helm, professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford and a figure respected by government. Writing in a blog about the model’s application to nuclear last month, Helm highlighted a number of open issues – such as which regulator would set the RAB for nuclear projects, as well as the “very severe lobbying pressures” any regulator would come under when making its RAB evaluations. Helm concludes that the RAB may be an efficient approach to financing nuclear power, but still doesn’t address fundamental issues about its cost competitiveness with other technology like wind and solar, or what do with all its radioactive waste. “It is for society to decide whether it wants new nuclear or not,” he said. “The market cannot decide.”
Unearthed 6th Aug 2018 read more »
New build nuclear power stations in the UK will require large-volume intakes of cooling waters from estuarine or coastal sites, and this report identifies information on techniques and systems to reduce the impact of such intakes on marine and estuarine biota (fish, crustacea, larval forms, plants and microscopic organisms). Available sources of information on the effectiveness and applicability of various biota protection methods are provided and summarised.
Environment Agency 6th Aug 2018 read more »