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In UK’s liberalised competitive market, nuclear power has no chance

Now the landscape is infinitely harsher. Britain has a liberalised, highly competitive energy market, and ministers are swearing blue that no nuclear subsidies will be provided. No nuclear power station has yet successfully been built, anywhere in the world, in such circumstances.

Will Chris Huhne succeed where Mrs Thatcher failed? I wouldn’t bet on it – Telegraph UK, By Geoffrey Lean October 19th, 2010 “…….the new announcement by the formerly anti-nuclear Chris Huhne takes me back some thirty years to the time when Mrs Thatcher’s government unveiled its atomic ambitions, the last serious British attempt to expand the country’s use of the technology.

The iron lady originally wanted to build ten new nuclear power stations, two more than are now envisaged by ministers. By the time her government got to publishing a White Paper, in 1981, the number had shrunk to five.  Only one of these was ever built, at Sizewell, on the East Anglian coast. It produced its first watt a full 15 years later, and its cost more than doubled during construction. Indeed, it transpired much later, it had only been possible to build it at all through a massive, if underhand, subsidy; money provided to the nuclear industry by Government  ‘to deal with the decommissioning of old and unsafe plants’ was diverted to bring into being the shiny new one instead…..

Back then things were much easier for nuclear power. Britain had a nationalised electricity industry, a monopoly headed by atomic advocates. If they and the government wanted reactors, they could just go ahead and build them. If costs overran, they could be hidden, or cash conjured up to cover them: there was no competition to worry about.Now the landscape is infinitely harsher. Britain has a liberalised, highly competitive energy market, and ministers are swearing blue that no nuclear subsidies will be provided. No nuclear power station has yet successfully been built, anywhere in the world, in such circumstances. And the industry has not lost its talent for falling well behind schedule and seeing costs escalate: that is happening to both the reactors being built in Finland and France that are designed as prototypes for ones to be constructed here…..

Will Chris Huhne succeed where Mrs Thatcher failed? I wouldn’t bet on it – Telegraph Blogs

October 22, 2010 - Posted by | business and costs, UK

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