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UK Parliament debates Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, with anxiety over the Government’s big nuclear plans.

…successive Governments seem to have developed a groupthink, following lobbying from the nuclear industry, that somehow nuclear is a prerequisite for our future.” 

…… … there is currently no economic or environmental case for the construction of any further nuclear stations in the UK.”   

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.

 SafeEnergy E Journal  No.92. December 21Large New Nuclear Update The UK Government has said it wants to secure a final investment decision on at least one largescale nuclear plant by the end of this Parliament. It is also supporting the development of Small Modular Reactors. 

The Government is putting nuclear power at heart of its net zero strategy. Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, unveiled the “Net Zero Strategy”, as well as a “Heat and Buildings Strategy” in October. The creation of a “regulated asset base” (RAB) model will be the key to the delivery of a future fleet of large nuclear power plants. The RAB funding model is already being used for other infrastructure projects, such as London’s Thames Tideway super sewer. Under this program, GB electricity consumers, including those in Scotland (but not Northern Ireland) will be billed for the cost of the plant via a “nuclear tax” long before it starts producing electricity, which could take a decade or more from the time the final investment decision is made. 

On Wednesday 3rd November, MPs debated the second reading of the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, both put forward amendments, but neither was accepted for debate by the Speaker  

  The Lib Dem Motion said the Bill does nothing to address concerns about costs around nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning and fails to bring forward meaningful reforms to accelerate the deployment of renewable power. The SNP Motion said there is no longer a justification for large nuclear power stations to provide baseload energy, because large scale nuclear is too inflexible to counter to the intermittency of renewables. It called on the Government to spend more money on energy efficiency measures and targeted support for those who suffering from fuel poverty.

 During the debate in the House of Commons (1), 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 and Moorside in Cumbria. He said the Bill was intended to get new projects off the ground, including, potentially, Sizewell C, which is the subject of ongoing negotiations between EDF and the Government, as well as further projects, such as on Wylfa.   

 He said the Bill would add, on average less than £1 per month to consumers’ bills during the construction phase of a nuclear project. But compared with the CfD model used to fund Hinkley Point C this could produce a cost saving for consumers of more than £30 billion.


Regarding Scottish Consumers being forced to pay for new reactors he said: 
“…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 electricity-generating 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: “We need to support the need to finance new nuclear.”   

  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 … 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?” 
For the Liberal Democrats, Sarah Olney said “our position is very much that there should not be new nuclear power stations … there is currently no economic or environmental case for the construction of any further nuclear stations in the UK.”   

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/SafeEnergy_No92.pdf

November 27, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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