“The risks are high. in Finland, France & China fundamental design flaws have been detected in the same model of reactor planned for new British reactors Hinkley C & Sizewell C. As well as the dangers of accidents, nuclear power produces millions of tons of toxic radioactive waste every year.”Sophie Bolt, CND
By Sophie Bolt, Vice Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Controversial legislation is being rushed through parliament which will transfer billions of pounds onto individual consumers, whilst affording them no protection from the spiralling construction costs of nuclear power. Introduced at the end of October when attention was rightly focused on COP26, the Bill has received little attention. Yet it will have a profound impact on millions of families forced to foot the bill and will push thousands more into fuel poverty.
So why is the government forcing more families into fuel poverty? To bankroll a failing industry. With all 15 British nuclear power plants set to be closed by 2030, funding for eight new ones is in a state of collapse. Only one plant – Hinkley Point C – is under construction and this is running ten years late and £4.5 billion over budget.
The Bill enables energy companies to use a regulated asset base (RAB) model to transfer the construction costs – and financial risks – onto consumers and start making a profit even before the plants generate any electricity.
Whilst the government presents the funding model as a money saver for consumers, under RAB-style models in the US, consumers are being forced to foot the bill for a nuclear power station that didn’t even get completed, whilst others are having to paying over-run costs of $2.1 billion.
In his evidence to the parliamentary Committee examining the Bill, Chief Energy Economist at Citizens Advice, Richard Hall, stated ‘…consumers are not simply exposed to the cost of capital; they are also exposed to the volume of capital. That is relevant … because nuclear projects have a track record of coming in over budget and behind schedule.’ And he pointed out that ‘consumers do not have any control over the risk’. Yet his proposal for an independent impact assessment for each new contract was rejected by the government.
And the risks are high. in Finland, France and China fundamental design flaws have been detected in the same model of reactor planned for new British reactors Hinkley C and Sizewell C. As well as the dangers of accidents, nuclear power produces millions of tons of toxic radioactive waste every year, particularly from uranium mining.
As well as the overwhelmingly evidence that nuclear power is dangerous it is obscenely more expensive than renewables. The government deal agreed with EDF for the cost of electricity generated at Hinkley C was linked to 2012 prices. This is now £106 Megawatts per hour – twice the cost of the wholesale market price! And recent offshore wind bids have offered £36.95/MWh! In fact, renewables now make up over 40% of the electricity generated in Britain. And their price is set to continue to fall.
Renewables like solar, wind and tidal power, as well as being cheaper and cleaner, are quicker to generate electricity. Whilst Hinkley C nuclear power plant won’t be generating electricity until 2028, and Sizewell C not until 2035 – and that’s only if the reactor design flaws is resolved.
The government has a vitally important target to reduce its carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. Why on earth then, instead of investing in renewables, would it pour billions into nuclear power and force consumers to shoulder all the risks that go with it?
MPs need to give this appallingly misguided Bill the attention it deserves and vote against it on Monday.
- CND has produced a briefing outlining the key arguments against the Bill. It’s urging supporters to lobby their MPs. For resources visit https://cnduk.org/nuclear-energy-finance-bill-model-letter-to-send-to-your-mp/