Saturday, 2 April 2011

Are Liberal Democrats turning against nuclear?

Are the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, turning against nuclear power? No. Statements recorded by Nick Clegg fearing that nuclear power will be too expensive to be funded by the private sector in a post-Fukushima world seem more likely to be an attempt to throw some verbal sops to anti-nuclear Liberal Democrats who are fighting the local elections. There is no sign that the Electricity Market Reform (ERM),  published in December, will be dropped,  and that the Government's proposals for secret subsidies to be given to build nuclear power stations will be seriously amended.

The Government has chosen a very obscure and confusing way of cross subsidising nuclear  through its 'contract for differences' proposal in the ERM. Nuclear power developments will be given guaranteed premium prices which will be funded by electricity consumers. The obscurity helps to cloak the breach of Tory and Lib Dem election promises  not to subsidise nuclear power.

A further smokescreen of proposed increases in carbon taxes is added to attempt to hide the subsidies,  The Government, in a further attempt to hide all this says that electricity prices will be a lot higher in ten years time because of its proposals for increases in the carbon floor price. In ten years time, note, not now. How can the Government increase prices in ten years time when it will not do it now? It can't. They will not in ten years time either! But it is all part of a smokescreen to hide the subsidies for nuclear and the fact that the subsidies for renewables are being cut to in order to fund nuclear power.

Added to this, prospective nuclear developers want their investments to be guaranteed by the Government. They will probably achieve some sort of scheme to do this, even though this is a facility that is denied to renewable energy developers, such as offshore wind companies, who could very much do with such guarantees to reduce their costs. Whether we shall hear about this is another matter. Democratic consultation is being suspended for nuclear energy issues to enable the people who know better to make the choices that the ordinary people are not clever enough to make. Questions will be deflected on the grounds of 'commercial
confidentiality'. All in keeping with the Liberal Democrat manifesto, of course.

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