Reply from MP with original letter

Letter to MP
Wednesday 9 May 2012

Dear Richard Bacon,
Thank you for your letter date 20th of April. However, I stated in my
letter (16th of April) that I wanted your views on nuclear subsidies.
It is clear from your response that you merely quoted from Chris Huhne
– you even forgot to remove the last quotation mark.
While I appreciate that often passing on queries to the relevant
minister or department is appropriate I would like in this case for
you, as my local representative, to give your view.

First of all I would like to know how ‘no public subsidies’ means ‘yes
public subsidies’. I have failed to find any press release, statement
or consultation document that explained to the public that ‘no
subsidies’ meant that subsidies would be given. I feel that this is the
sort of political double speak that makes people distrustful of people
like yourself.

Secondly you clearly stated in your letter to me dated 11th December
2009 that “I believe that nuclear power will be part of the low carbon
energy mix, if it is economically viable without subsidy?. This would
imply to me that you would not consider any sort of subsidy to nuclear
power.
Although some would argue that nuclear should have ‘an equal playing
field’ and receive the same subsidies as renewables there are strong
arguments against this. First of all nuclear power has been in
existence since the 1950s and was developed and supported by the
taxpayers for most of the time since then. The tax payer is now paying
for the decommissioning and waste disposal for these old plants
(estimated to be at least £70billion – more than the recent spending
cuts). The tax payer also subsidises the EdF owned British Energy
plants through the Nuclear Liabilities Fund. Therefore nuclear is a
mature technology which has already had more than its fair share of
public subsidy.
One of the mechanisms for supporting new nuclear would be the Feed-in
Tariff with Contract for Difference (CfD) arrangement. I note that this
is currently prohibited by EU regulations since, as stated above,
nuclear is not a new technology. Is it true that the UK is now arguing
within Europe that an exception is made for nuclear power?
In The nuclear energy landscape in Great Britain, NAO April 2012
(http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenergy/writev/nuclearenergy/nuclear.pdf)
it is stated (para 3.26) that an interim arrangement may be made for
nuclear until the CfD comes into effect in 2014. However, it is clear
that any potential investor would need more than ‘assurance’ and would
require cast iron guarantees about what they would get under CfD. Why
should nuclear power operators not have to wait until the regulatory
procedures have run their course.
I also note that The Times (UK nuclear build requires taxpayer rescue –
Citi, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/08/uk-nuclear-britain-edf-idUKBRE8470XC20120508) says that the cost of the plant has risen from £4.5bn to £7bn. Do you think that it would be wise to revisit the cost benefit analysis which is the basis for government support for nuclear since this used a figure of £3bn. This could also use the widely accepted figure of
65g/KWhr instead of the 6g/KWhr of CO2 that the government took from
British Energy. I have copied my letter to you from November 2009
concerning this topic below.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Lux

Dear Mr Bacon MP,
I would like to ask a few questions about this government’s recent
white paper about nuclear power. This seems to mainly based on a cost
benefit analysis (http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39525.pdf) so it is
this I shall refer to.

Construction Costs
The first point is about the construction costs. In the cost benefit
analysis it was assumed that this would be in the region of £3billion.
However, the nuclear industry is now giving very different figures of
between £4 and £5 billion which is a 30-60% cost increase.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions
The governments analysis assumes the figures given by the nuclear power
industry (Life-cycle Assessment, Vattenfall’s Electricity in Sweden,
January 2005;
(http://www.vattenfall.com/www/vf_com/vf_com/Gemeinsame_Inhalte/DOCUMENT/360168vatt/386246envi/2005-LifeCycleAssessment.pdf)
and Environmental Product Declaration of Electricity from Torness
Nuclear Power Station, May 2005.
(http://www.british-energy.com/documents/EPD_Doc_-_Final.pdf)) at
6g/KWhr. However, neither of these references give transparent analysis
of their findings and it is difficult to discuss.
One of the best studies of carbon dioxide emissions for nuclear power
was carried out by the University of Sydney (Integrated Sustainability
Analysis, 2006. Life-Cycle Energy Balance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
of Nuclear Energy in Australia. University of Sydney, Sydney, November
3, 2006 (http://www.isa.org.usyd.edu.au/publications/documents/ISA_Nuclear_Report.pdf). This gives a figure of 10-130g/KWhr with an average of 65g/KWhr. This is ten times the figure used by government in their analysis. A meta analysis carried out by Savacool et al www.nirs.org/climate/background/sovacool_nuclear_ghg.pdf looking at 103 lifecycle analyses gives a similar figure for the carbon dioxide emissions.
The ISA study is references in the cost benefit analysis but it is stated that the authors say that the most likely at the lower end of the range. The range of figures arises from two sources – uncertainties in the figures and variations in energy use due to different processes etc. However, the 6g/KWhr is well below the absolute minimum given by the ISA study. Even to get CO2 emissions in the range 10-20g/KWhr would require all uncertainties to be at their lowest values and the optimal processes and energy environments be obtained. Something which is possible but extremely unlikely.

In view of these facts I think it would be necessary for the government to revisit their cost benefit analysis with the new construction costs and to either
Use a value for carbon dioxide emissions in line with the studies mentioned
Provide a detailed critique of these academic studies and properly justify the figures for carbon dioxide emissions that they use.

Share


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Subscribe