Tuesday, 2 January 2018

EDF launch so-called 'cheap nuclear' plan that will ruin taxpayers

EDF are about to persuade the Government to sign a blank cheque for another one of their failing European Pressurised Reactors at Sizewell C.  The plan is to get taxpayers to pay for a large chunk of the the 'equity' financing of the plant and get the Government to guarantee the bulk of the rest of the costs. EDF will say at the start that the plant would be 'cheap', but, magically, the cost would gradually escalate over time. But meanwhile the Government would be committed to foot the bill. This will lead to the biggest black hole in the nation's finances since the financial crash.

However, this will get around the humiliation of EDF having to be paid the high price per MWh that Hinkley C is to be paid. A lower price might be agreed. But instead the taxpayers will foot a bill that is likely to rise to well over £10 billion pounds. The plant will not be any cheaper than Hinkley C, its just that the cost will be hidden on Treasury books. But this will have a catastrophic effect on public finances and deprive the Exchequer of many billions £s that could otherwise be spent on public services. This will be the subsidy to top all subsidies!

It is a gross distortion to claim that in this way nuclear power can be made cheaper than any sources. Of course if the Government takes out its chequebook and promises any power generator to pay whatever it likes then the power price will be much lower. With the Government effectively promising to pay for any and all cost overruns on such a project, what is to stop EDF from racking up virtually any bill it wants? 

One might think that such a transparently biased scheme (towards nuclear companies, away from the taxpayer and renewable energy) would be dismissed by any Government. Yet energy minister Tom Harrington has already signed up to a generally similar type of plan full of fantasies of how the costs of the projects would be kept under control (as usual). 

Hinkley C was supposed to be online now, yet even by EDF's projections it will not be working before 2027. Yet we are now to believe that the next power plant at Sizewell C will be built on time. Of course EDF can promise that this will be happening, because they will not have to pay for the consequences. The taxpayer will, in time, as the loans guaranteed by the Government have to be paid by the Government -as well as the equity stake - and no doubt extra to ensure that the plant is finally built.

EDF are claiming that Sizewell C will cost '£5bn less' than Hinkley C. Of course EDF hasn't even begun the serious construction of Hinkley C, so how do they know how much it will cost anyway!!

Of course, with rumours circulating that Boris Johnson could be appointed Business Secretary, the nuclear industry could have just the right person to front its raid on the nation's finances. Boris Johnson is not known for his attention to detail, but he's a breeze at giving rhetorical backing to all sorts of fanciful ideas. He's just the guy nuclear power needs!

You can read about EDF's latest cunning plan at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/cut-price-nuclear-power-plant-possible-says-edf-cmq37xm8q

The National Audit report in the summer of 2017, in their annexes, effectively backed the 'Government pays' option (ie blank cheque). See https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Hinkley-Point-C.pdf

You can see the nuclear industry's general thrust at:


  1. This is unbelievable! Not a single EPR project has gone to plan, all (Olkiluoto, Flamanville, Taishan and Hinkley) have suffered huge delays and cost escalations, and not a single one has ever been completed. And this is somehow a good investment of public funds?

  2. Energy Policy

    Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2010, Pages 5174-5188
    The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing

  3. The nuclear lies and cover up just keeps coming and our government is happy to put us all at risk financially as well as the obvious safety risks and fantasy of nuclear being green and good for the environment and this is assuming we have no accidents. The estimate i read of Fukushima costs to clean up could be upto 600 billion dollars. Why cant we just give taxpayer value for money and safety by scrapping this ancient, expensive and dangerous technology for renewables definite government conspiracy to collude with dirty nuclear. What gift/ nightmare are we giving to my child and the next generation. They will wonder how this madness was allowed!

  4. Fantasy land striking again. If only it werent so serious it would be funny. The lengths our government goes to collude with this most pervasive of industries is astounding. They are happy to bankrupt us taxpayers in the longrun with a massive financial weight round our necks to produce supposedly cheap (but actually v expensive power) on unproven technology when there are far cheaper and safer alternatives like renewables when most other countries are backing away from a backward, dangerous, expensive power choice. This is not even factoring in all the waste costs or any go forbid accident clear up costs. I read estimates that Fukushima clean up costs keep rising and rising and could cost 600 billion dollars! Why are being locked into dangerous, risky technologies that future generations will curse as for being so naive and negligent (putting them at financial and physical risk) with allowing and the government seems to be so in the pocket of nuclear that it is unbelievable. The fallacy of nuclear being green and good for the environment is frankly a joke, when you consider the total emmissions of the first spade in the ground to end of decommissioning this is farcical and far more than renewables , add to this the waste handling costs and godforbid any accident clear up costs. Add to this the jobs arguement that would be blown to bits if all those jobs were to be equated with same spend as in ex nuclear Germany was estimated to be 400,000 jobs renewables to a paltry 40,000 for nuclear. Again another spin of the nuclear facade, It depresses me so much that we as taxpayers can be so hood winked by a government and nuclear industryand the awful legacy bequeathed to future generations. We are working our way towards being in a nuclear nightmare that the French are in now and cant afford to get out of. Hope they can live with themselves after