Questions and Answers about Nuclear Power


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France - how is France's electricity so cheap?

Finland - costs rise and construction late at new power station

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How is France's electricity so cheap?

France generates 80% of its electricity from nuclear. Electricity prices for consumers are slightly lower than those in other European countries. Why?

France pays one third of the world price for its uranium, which it buys from its former colony Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. (1)

The nuclear industry is a monopoly owned and very heavily subsidised by the French Government. France has resisted all attempts to liberalise the European electricity market and privatise electricity generation, as has happened in the UK, because if they had to declare (and cut) Government subsidy, French electricity would suddenly become much more expensive.

The nuclear industry in France is closely linked with the armed forces, since it produces fissile material for the French nuclear arsenal.

More to follow, as more research is carried out on this subject.

1. (Guardian Weekly 24/08/07 p22)

On 16 October, the European Commission ordered Electricité de France (EdF) to repay 900 million Euros (US$877 million) in unfair state aid. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said that because the French government has guaranteed that EdF will not go bankrupt, EdF has profited from below-market interest rates. The French government, however, has rejected the allegations. State-owned EdF has bought up utilities in many countries, seeking to position itself as a global leader before its home market in France opens fully to outside competition., 16 October 2002;, 14 October 2002"


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Finland - costs rise and construction late at new power station

"....Finland, where the French state-owned nuclear company Areva is building Europe's first new reactor in years, one of a type expected to be chosen for Britain. The Finnish nuclear authority has already found 2,200 "quality deficiencies", the plant is three years behind schedule, and its cost has spiralled to $6.2bn - 50% more than the original estimate. Everyone is blaming everyone else. Now Elfi, a consortium of Finnish industries, calculates that the delays will create an extra $4bn of indirect costs for electricity users."

Guardian 4th Feb 2009

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