Monday, 16 April 2012

UK to subsidize nuclear power via EU?

In August 2010, Chris Huhne the then Energy Secretary told BBC News

"My position and my party's position was always one of scepticism about the economics of nuclear power, but what we did in the coalition agreement is recognise the differences between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

"We responded with an agreement which will say very clearly there will be no public subsidy for nuclear because it is an old technology... But at the same time, if investors come forward with proposals it is absolutely clear they will go through. "We believe that will happen. We believe there are investors who will be investing in new nuclear,"

But since then, there has been the nuclear disaster at Japan, the decision of Germany to close all of their nuclear plants by 2022, a world wide slow down and jittery investors as shown by E.ON UK and RWE npower decision to abandon their plans to build nuclear plants at Wylfa and Olbury.

All of this begs the question - will nuclear power ever be viable without subsidy from the public purse?

A post in the blog Zerohedge "Suddenly A Nasty Fight over Subsidies for Nukes in Europe" brought to my attention allegations that the UK was trying to get a subsidy for nuclear power from the EU.

The French newspaper also ran this story.

According to the German press, four countries among which France and Britain have demanded that nuclear power is subsidized by the European Union, as well as renewable energy. The France denies such an initiative....

...An article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Friday, France, Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic have sent letters to Brussels in order to subsidize the EU nuclear energy such as wind or Solar, in preparation for a meeting of energy ministers next week.

Meanwhile on Friday Reuters had the headline "EU states say renewable goal not fair on other fuels"

"Renewable energy does not have more right to an EU target than other fuels, according to pro-nuclear states and coal-intensive Poland, as debate heats up over updating a 2020 goal to have a 20 percent share of green fuel in the energy mix.

The comments from Britain and France, as well as Poland, have been made as part of consultations on the Energy 2050 Roadmap....

The British government in a position paper said "any targets set should be neutral with respect to different low carbon technologies."

All of which is based on leaked documents, but what seems clear is that there are moves afoot lead by the UK, France and Poland to include nuclear power and other 'neutral technology' as green fuel in the energy mix.

Whether this would lead to the EU funding nuclear power in the UK is unlikely, as Germany which pays 20% of the EU bill is most likely to veto such move.

All of which means that if the Conservatives cannot get the Liberal Democrats to change the coalition agreement to allow subsidy of the nuclear sector, then it seems there is little chance of investors coming forward.

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