On February 7th a motion tabled by a cross party group of MPs questioning subsidies for new nuclear power stations is to be debated in the House of Commons. Please send an urgent message to your MP to urge them to support the motion!
The motion reads:
That this House notes that both the Coalition Agreement, and numerous ministerial statements, have committed the Government to provide “no public subsidy” to new nuclear; further notes that negotiations are currently ongoing between DECC and new nuclear suppliers to fix the strike price in advance of the legislation on Energy Market Reform; is concerned by wider issues of subsidy and transparency and in particular that this process pre-empts the legislation; is further concerned that new evidence suggests that this constitutes an unjustifiable subsidy to a mature industry; therefore calls on the Government to pause the process while the Public Accounts Committee examines whether the Contract for Difference being offered to new nuclear power generation offers genuine value for money.Proposed by:
Martin Horwood, Mike Weatherley, Caroline Lucas, Martin Caton, Andrew Stunell, Zac Goldsmith, Mike Weir, Andrew George, Tessa Munt.
If the Government was really far sighted it might take this opportunity to announce that the subsidies would be reserved for fuels and technologies with a real future - energy efficiency and renewable energy - rather than the futility of offering money to an energy source that cannot get anywhere without being bankrolled directly by the state.
Centrica, the electricity and gas major, has recently made the long-awaited announcement that it is pulling out of the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station construction project in which it had a 20 per cent share. The rest of the option is held by EDF. This is covered in the BBC report below: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21319031
Coming hard on the heels of this news are warnings from the CEO of EDF that even EDF may formally withdraw from the project, hinting that negotiations with the UK Government about a 'strike price' for sales of electricity generated are not going to the company's satisfaction. See:
As predicted in this blog earlier, this Government will not find it politically possible to give sufficient subsidies to allow Hinkley C to go ahead. It would need to give higher subsidies to nuclear power than even allegedly expensive renewable fuels like offshore wind and solar pv (never mind onshore wind which is very cheap by comparison). Yet without such high subsidies EDF will not be able to invest in the project for the simple reason that their shareholders will expect them to put their money into ventures that can earn them more money with greater certainty. Of course what the nuclear industry craves is a return to the old days when the Government, or some nationalised industry, gave them a blank cheque so that they could spend taxpayers money without limit and accountability and then say that nuclear power is cheap. However, those days are gone, at least under this Coalition Government, and under a Labour Government.
It has been a bad week for nuclear power. Councillors in Cumbria rejected plans for a nuclear waste repository - and Cumbria Council were the only local authority which has even given the idea serious thoughts. See:
In a third stroke of 'bad luck' this week, the Public Accounts Commitee announced that a very large bill has accumulated for dealing with nuclear waste. See http://news.sky.com/story/1047184/nuclear-build-centrica-pulls-out-of-project
I am sure all this will not stop the brilliant nuclear power public relations team from keeping the show on the road through its usual fantasy stories. But reality is rather more negative. Recently, at the 'Feeding Renewables' Conference I organised, I bet Martin Alder £100 that there would be no construction of any nuclear power stations before the next General Election. I am expecting to win my bet!