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Government to set out backing for nuclear plants

Energy minister Charles Hendry will today set out the government’s support for new nuclear power, in the face of opposition from the Conservatives’ coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

Hendry will tell the Nuclear Industry Forum that there is a role for new nuclear plants, provided they do not require public subsidies.

In one of the key differences between the two coalition parties, the Conservatives back a new generation of private sector-funded nuclear power stations while the Liberal Democrats have long opposed new nuclear build.

The Conservative junior minister, who works under Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, said conversations he has had with companies suggest they are willing to invest without being subsidised from the public purse.

But the government will have a role in taking steps to remove unnecessary barriers to building new nuclear power stations.

Government support is likely to include a strong floor price for carbon, which could be introduced in next week’s emergency Budget, pushing up the price of allowances for polluting and incentivising investment in low-carbon power such as nuclear.

Hendry is expected to tell the forum: “The coalition agreement clearly sees a role for new nuclear, provided that there is no public subsidy.

“We are clear. It is for private sector energy companies to construct, operate and decommission new nuclear plants.

“It will be for us to ensure the appropriate levels of safety, security and environmental regulation.”

Readers' comments (4)

  • Mr Hendry's expected statement offer fine words. The key words however are "no public subsidy". With nuclear's track record on trick accounting to cover up actual costs, it is utterly inconceivable that companies are "willing to invest without public subsidy".
    Are we set to be plunged back into the bad old days of hidden subsidy?
    Why can't they just be honest : nuclear needs big subsidy but we do need a nuclear contribution therefore big subsidy must and will happen.

    Chris Johnson

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  • Nuclear power is the only available solution to our present energy needs. Wind turbines are not a solution. They are meant to be built in areas where they are 30% efficient but most run at less than 10%. The energy they produce is unpredictable for example in the last cold spell there was little wind and there is no guarantee that the energy is produced when wanted ie during the day rather than at night.

    The cost and carbon footprint of turbines never seems to be published. If the subsidies were removed and the useful power paid for instead there would be no wind turbines. Wind farms should be renamed "subsidy farms"

    Germany has a high percentage of its energy theoretically produced by wind. It is having to build 5 coal-powered stations to cope with the unreliability of its wind power production. So much for green free energy!

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  • Nuclear power is the best solution to provide base load.

    Security of electrical energy supply is best provided from a mixed basket, which should include fossil & renewable sources.

    Wind power is reliable over an extended period say a year & is consistant year of year.

    Day by day wind is not reliable.

    To mitigate this it makes sense to harvest & store during the peaks & release this energy during the troughs.

    Storage is possible by pump storage or chemical storage such as by electrically splitting water into hydrogen & oxygen.

    Hydrogen can be use directly in gas turbines, or in fuel cells. Ammonia production and its use as a fuel are also possibilities.

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  • Mr Marco, Please choose your words more carefully. Nuclear is not the only solution. Agreed it is part of the solution though. To go on to say that wind turbines are not the solution is misleading, because they also are part of the solution. If you are concerned about subsidies for wind turbines why do you not express your absolute outrage at the disproportionately greater nuclear subsidy? Why talk about green free energy? Who has claimed free energy? The wind lobby - no. The nuclear lobby - yes (although admittedly a very long time ago).

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