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Speaker of UK Parliament refuses debate on motions against Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill.

Of course, consumers who have signed up to buy 100% renewable electricity could quite rightly feel aggrieved at having to pay the “nuclear tax” as well.

nuClear News, November. 21. Nuclear Energy Finance Bill On Wednesday 3rd November, MPs debated the second reading of the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, bot put forward an amendment, but neither was accepted for debate by the Speaker. 

LibDem Motion: That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill because there is no economic or environmental case for the construction of any further nuclear stations in the UK; because the Bill does nothing to address concerns about costs around nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning; because the Bill fails to bring forward meaningful reforms to accelerate the deployment of renewable power or the removal of restrictions on solar, wind and the building of more interconnectors to guarantee security of supply; and because it fails to remove barriers to investment in renewables or to support  investment and innovation in cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, demand response, smart grids and hydrogen. 

SNP Motion: This House declines to give a Second Reading to the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill because it believes there is no longer a justification for a large nuclear power station to provide base load energy, because large scale nuclear is not compatible as a counter to the intermittency of renewable wind as nuclear stations are too inflexible, because pumped storage hydro should be utilised to provide renewable energy that can be dispatched when required and pumped storage hydro should be supported with a minimum electricity price providing better value to bill payers than funding new nuclear, because wave and tidal technologies should be utilised to provide stable and predictable electricity generation and these technologies should be supported to scale up via the provision of a ring fenced pot of funding within the forthcoming contracts for difference auction, because the net zero pathway will be better advanced by supporting the Scottish Cluster as a fast track Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage project given that it includes hydrogen production, direct air capture and carbon storage facilities that will serve the wider UK, and because greater support and investment should be directed towards green hydrogen production and emerging storage technologies; and, as the cost of energy increases, this House calls on the Government to spend more money on energy efficiency measures and targeted support for those who suffer from or are at risk of fuel povertyac1

  During the debate in the House of Commons, the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Gregg Hands said that we need a new funding model to support the financing of large-scale and advanced nuclear technologies. He said the lack of alternatives to the funding model used for Hinkley Point C has led to the cancellation of recent potential projects, at Wylfa Newydd in Wales and Moorside in Cumbria.

Gregg Hands was introducing the Nuclear Finance Bill as it received its second reading in the House. He said the Bill was intended to get new projects off the ground throughout Great Britain, including, potentially, the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, which is the subject of ongoing   \ negotiations between EDF and the Government, as well as potential further projects, such as on the Wylfa site in Wales.


 “The most important thing to understand about this Bill is that it enables future nuclear projects and a diversity of financing models, with greater access to private sector finance in particular, so that we are less dependent on overseas developers as we go forward.” 


“A RAB model allows a company to charge consumers to construct and operate new infrastructure projects. It allows the company’s investors to share some of the project’s construction and operating risks with consumers, overseen by a strong economic regulator. That in turn significantly lowers the cost of capital, which is the main driver of a nuclear project’s cost to consumers.”

 “The funding model will require consumers to pay a small amount on their bills during the construction of a nuclear project. These payments from the start of construction will avoid the build-up of interest on loans that would otherwise lead to higher costs to consumers in the future…. a project starting construction in 2023 will add only a very small amount to the average dual-fuel household bill during this Parliament—on average less than £1 per month during the full construction phase of the project … Our analysis has shown that using this funding model for a nuclear project could produce a cost saving for consumers of more than £30 billion, compared with funding projects through a contract for difference.”


Members will know that the Scottish Government have a different position with regard to new nuclear projects. To be clear: this Bill will not alter the current approval process for new nuclear, nor the responsibilities of the devolved Governments. Nothing in this Bill will change the fact that Scottish Ministers are responsible for approving applications for large-scale onshore electricitygenerating stations in Scotland. The steps taken in this Bill will mean that Scottish consumers will benefit from a cheaper, more resilient and lower-carbon electricity system, so it is right that Scottish consumers should contribute towards the construction of new projects.” 


Labour’s Alan Whitehead disappointed many when he said: “At last we have a Bill that might rectify some of that poor performance [of the Tories] over the last 10 years. We need to support the need to finance new nuclear. We will scrutinise this Bill to guarantee fairness for bill payers, including protecting consumers against any potential cost overruns, protecting the poorest households, and scrutinising the balance between public spending and bill payers.”

 The SNPs Energy Spokesperson Alan Brown said: “…successive Governments seem to have developed a groupthink, following lobbying from the nuclear industry, that somehow nuclear is a prerequisite for our future.”  

 
He went on to say: “…it was stated in the letter that the new funding model could potentially save the taxpayer £30 billion to £80 billion. How much money do the Government estimate has been wasted on Hinkley?”


“On costs, we are told that a new deal signed under the proposed new funding model in the Bill will cost consumers only £1 a month during construction, but if we look at a 10-year construction period for Sizewell C, we see that that means that bill payers in 28 million households will pay £3.4 billion before it is operational. That is a further £3.4 billion in expenditure when that money could be better invested elsewhere … we have been told for five years that Hinkley is good value for money, but now the Government have come back to the House to say that actually that is not the case and they have a new plan for how to deliver nuclear.”

 “What else could we do with that amount of money? We could upgrade all homes to energy performance certificate band C. We could have wave and tidal generation. The UK Government are willing to introduce the Bill and commit hundreds of millions of pounds to nuclear—the Budget has £1.7 billion just for developing nuclear to a negotiation stage—but they will not even ringfence £24 million for wave and tidal in pot 2 of the forthcoming contracts for difference auction. The disparity is clear.”   

  For the Liberal Democrats, Sarah Olney said “our position is very much that there should not be new nuclear power stations. We need to go further to make sure that we can completely decarbonise our energy sector. We want to support renewables and household and community energy … there is currently no economic or environmental case for the construction of any further nuclear stations in the UK … it will take 20 years to build a new nuclear power station, however it is funded. We have very ambitious net zero targets. As the Minister said, we want to be net zero in our power sector by 2030, which is much sooner than in 20 years. We need to move considerably faster than that.”

She went on to say: “The current issue with renewables is one of storage, but the technology to address some of the problems is being developed at speed. It is clear that by putting our energies, investment and ingenuity into answering some of the questions in relation to storage in particular, but other things as well, we can achieve net zero much faster through renewables. It would be much more productive to invest in storage solutions than to invest in nuclear power …We need to do much more to insulate the existing housing stock and to ensure that we have much better building standards for new builds. The Government need to do much more on that.   

  She said the Public Accounts Committee report on the green homes grant, which was a total failure, goes into a fair amount of detail as to why. We need to redouble efforts to get Britain’s homes insulated. 


On the £30 billion savings the NFLA UK & Ireland Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:   
  “The Minister is comparing one expensive environmentally unsustainable project with another expensive environmentally unsustainable project. If he really wanted to save consumers’ money he would introduce a National Homes Retrofit Scheme as quickly as possible having learned the lessons from its failed Green Homes Scheme, and introduce a scheme to support flexibility, demand management and smart grids so that we can use more of our cheap, sustainable renewable electricity.” 

On Scottish Consumers paying this “nuclear tax” because they “will benefit from a cheaper, more resilient and lower-carbon electricity system,” Scottish NFLA Chair, Cllr. Feargal Dalton said:  

  “Renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020. The Scottish electorate has consistently voted for Governments opposed to building new nuclear power stations. With wind and solar now the cheapest forms of electricity Scottish consumers shouldn’t have to pay for the Tories’ failed energy policies.” (2) 


Of course, consumers who have signed up to buy 100% renewable electricity could quite rightly feel aggrieved at having to pay the “nuclear tax” as well.   https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/nuClearNewsNo135.pdf

November 13, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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