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June 21, 2006

The Cost of Nuclear

Fighting words here:

Bill Coley, a 40-year veteran of the nuclear industry, said: “I don’t believe that nuclear power requires any subsidy to make it viable in the market place. There are great examples of new nuclear plant in place in other countries at very competitive prices.”

He might even be right but I don’t think The City is going to agree with him.

“Price is not the barrier, the biggest barriers here are the time it takes to get permits and planning,” Mr Coley said.

I certainly believe part of that. Any new nuclear build will need the same protection from endless planning proposals and appeals that other energy sources get: wind farms for example. If new nuclear is indeed going to be built they’ll need to decide upon one reactor design, get that fully licenced and then use it again and again, leaving only location as something to be fought over, rather than protestors repeatedly dragging out the enquiries for years and years.

But one question. Why shouldn’t nuclear receive subsidy? All the renewables do, so why shouldn’t nuclear? If we accept the idea that CO2 emissions are an externality that requires government involvement to solve, why should nuclear not get the same as the others? It is, after all, over the entire cycle, less CO2 emittive than wind power, so why should one have a privileged position and not the other?

June 21, 2006 in Nuclear | Permalink


Why do we need a subsidy at all? I thought the externalities of CO2 emission were supposed to be accounted for in the carbon permit scheme...

Posted by: Sam | Jun 21, 2006 1:44:24 PM

Or alternately why should windmills get subsidy when nuclear doesn't. The answer being that nobody would build them otherwise then we would have to rely on cheap available nuclear, & the guys who have put so much effort into lobying the government wouldn't get it back.

In Japan they have built reactors in 4 years while our antis say it will take 12/15/20 years to do so. I think this does not exactly parallel the creation to regulation cost ratio but is indicative.

Posted by: Neil Craig | Jun 21, 2006 4:39:06 PM

But surely we will build them in France? (i.e. buy the leccy from the French)

Posted by: rub-a-dub | Jun 21, 2006 10:51:58 PM