Questions and Answers about Nuclear Power


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Al Gore said "I came to the Congress in 1976 as a very strong supporter of nuclear power. I have grown sceptical. I am not opposed to it, but there is now in the industry absolutely zero ability to predict with any confidence what the cost of construction is." Guardian 4th Feb 2009


Subsidies for nuclear power

Costs of nuclear





Subsidies for nuclear power

These are some of the ways in which the UK Government subsidises nuclear power.

1. Nuclear clean-up (Decommissioning)
Taxpayers are picking up the majority of the costs of cleaning up the current generation of nuclear power stations and other nuclear facilities. Current estimates exceed £90,000,000,000 - about £1,500 for every person in the UK.

2. Insurance
No commercial insurance company will offer public liability insurance for nuclear power stations, because the risks are too great. A major incident with release of radioactivity would cost so much that it would bankrupt any insurance company. There have already been several such incidents (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and (although not strictly a power station) Windscale) and insurance companies are aware that it is unlikely that another will not happen. So the Government has agreed that it will pay for thrid-party liability costs arising from a major incident at a nuclear power station. That's our money. It is difficult to calculate what this subsidy is worth, given the enormous costs of the risks involved, but it is likely to be severla million pounds per year for each nuclear power station.

3. Training
The Government has set up a dedicated training facility to train technicians for the next round of nuclear power stations. "Jobs are now being advertised at West Cumbria’s new skills academy in Lillyhall. The £20 million Nuclear Skills Academy Energus is expected to be officially opened this summer. " Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009

"In 2007-08 the NDA provided £5 million to support the establishment of Energus (formerly referred to as The Nuclear Academy) as a centre of excellence for skills, training and business support."
Whitehaven News, 22nd Sep 2010 (excerpt from letter from Dr David Lowry)

"Sedgemoor District Council in Somerset and the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) have been criticised for gifting land and funding to Bridgwater College for its planned training hub. The council handed over a one hectare parcel of land, valued at £85,000, to the college and the RDA pledged £1.9 million to the development." Western Morning News June 16, 2009

4. Research and development
"Labour’s Paul Flynn was told in a reply by energy minister Charles Hendry (Hansard, June 10) that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority directly commissions research in support of its management mission, which in 2010-11 totalled £11million to research expenditure.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) current nuclear research portfolio totals £8.5 million, and in 2008-09 the Research Council’s UK Energy Programme spent £1.7million on eight projects “directly relevant to long-term nuclear waste management and facility decommissioning”.

The Natural Environment Research Council meanwhile has allocated £676,000 for 2010-11 and £2.6 million in future years to decommissioning and waste management research, and in 2009-10 it provided funding of £277,000 to projects in this area.

In the same financial year, the Environment Agency spent some £180,000 in grant in aid on regulatory research relevant to nuclear waste and decommissioning (approximately 25 per cent of the research costs in that year)."Whitehaven News, 22nd Sep 2010 (excerpt from letter from Dr David Lowry)

5. Loan guarantees

6. Waste disposal

7. International Bodies

"As a member of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) the UK pays an annual subscription of around £0.6 million (depending on exchange rates) and also subscribes to the NEA’s Databank, at a cost of £350,000 a year.

The UK allocated and paid a total of just under US$ 9.3 million and Euros 16.4 million to the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, for 2010. A similar sum, but allowing for inflation, exchange rate differences, and the likely outcome of current ongoing budget negotiations among member states and the agency, has been set aside for 2011.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith was subsequently told by the energy minister (Hansard, June 17) that the UK has paid a total of 116.95 million euros and US$ 84.42million to the IAEA over the past 10 years.
Whitehaven News, 22nd Sep 2010 (excerpt from letter from Dr David Lowry)

7. Facilitation

"[The] Office for Nuclear Development – responsible for facilitating new nuclear build in the UK – has a total budget for 2010-11 of £3 million (Hansard, June 10). He added: “These figures do not include the Department’s wider work on policy associated with nuclear security, safety and non-proliferation.”
Whitehaven News, 22nd Sep 2010 (excerpt from letter from Dr David Lowry)

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Costs of nuclear

See also Finland on the International page.

"Nuclear waste from the reactors likely to be built in the UK will be up to seven times more hazardous than that produced by existing reactors. The admission was made in an 'environmental impact assessment' report by nuclear company Posiva. Posiva are responsible for managing the waste which will be produced by the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) currently being constructed in Olkiluoto, Finland. And an independent nuclear consultant has warned that this will increase the costs of nuclear energy, as waste storage and safety expenses will rise above expected levels. "

Greenpeace Press Release UK 2nd Feb 2009


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