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LQD: You call the British power market "free"?

by Starvid Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:06:20 AM EST

A new generation of nuclear power stations will be encouraged to supply unlimited amounts of electricity to the national grid, The Times has learnt.

The Cabinet will give the go-ahead for the new building programme today and John Hutton, the Business Secretary, will announce the decision on Thursday.

He will pave the way for the nuclear industry to play a much bigger part in meeting Britain's energy needs by making plain that there will be no limit on the amount of electricity it can supply to the grid.

At present nuclear power accounts for 20 per cent of energy supplies.

The price that the Government will make the nuclear power operators pay to supply unlimited electricity is that they will have to meet the costs of decommissioning power stations and of managing and disposing of waste. Legislation will be promised by Mr Hutton to safeguard the taxpayer from such costs, although critics will maintain that it will merely result in higher electricity bills.

So... The nuclear industry will have to deal with its own spent fuel, something so blindingly obvious ("polluter pays", remember?) that it shouldn't even warrant mentioning, and as a "reward" they will be given the right to produce as much as... they can?

Isn't that also blindingly obvious, especially in a deregulated market? Why does the Secretary even have to mention it, and why is Times covering it?


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:06:58 AM EST
Is there currently a limit on the amount that nuke stations can put into the system?

Regardless, I'd love to know how they're going to prevent the shareholders in the companies from selling them off cheap after they've taken the profits but  before they're forced to bear the cost of decomissioning.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:12:39 AM EST
I have no idea about any limits. Such limits would be absurd, especially considering the British love affair with the Free Market(tm).

The way to avoid the second problem you mention, at least the way we do it in Sweden, is to tax nuclear electricity when it is produced and put the money in a segregated decomissioning fund.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:22:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since when did being absurd bother them?

Taxes are anti-business.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:28:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems to be the approach that was being floated in the run up this week, although Hutton was pretty vague in his parliamentary statement and there's plenty of opportunities for the policy to change (indeed having a pot of money sitting around for decades can be an unbearable temptation for govts even if they set up a decommissioning fund on this generation of reactors).


-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Thu Jan 10th, 2008 at 10:00:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, clearly, if the shareholders skim the profits so the company doesn't keep enough assets on its balance sheet to pay for decommissioning, the company will be technically bankrupt, and will have to be bailed out... oh, wait!

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 02:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Private Eye today notes that the French company that appears most likely to get the contract for the construction of the new Nuclear power stations has as its head of media relations one Andrew Brown, who just by coincidence happens to be the brother of the Prime Minister.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 03:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - LQD: You call the British power market "free"?
unlimited amounts

Does that mean we have to stop worrying about power shortages? For - like - ever?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 12:45:30 PM EST
Too cheap to meter, probably.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 12:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it means that electricity from nuclear will be first, others can only compete to supply the remaining demand. That is, nuclear doesn't have to fear wind.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 12:51:45 PM EST
Er, oh right. I must have misunderstood that announcement not long ago about wind farms all round the British coasts.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 12:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, see below.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 01:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remind everyone of this story we saw a month ago.

The Independent on Sunday has learnt that, in an astonishing U-turn, the Secretary of State for Business, John Hutton, will announce that he is opening up the seas around Britain to wind farms in the biggest ever renewable energy initiative. Only weeks ago he was resisting a major expansion of renewable sources, on the grounds that it would interfere with plans to build new nuclear power stations...

The move will put the country well on the way to achieving a tough EU target of providing 20 per cent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020...

But the Prime Minister overruled Mr Hutton and insisted in his first green speech as PM last month that the target would be maintained and met.

So the above was for show, and what Starvid noticed but didn't understood is the message on how they mean business.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 01:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To put it another way: in a deregulated market, they would have the right to produce as much as they can produce and sell.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 01:27:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear power - resources from Scientists for Global Responsibility

Press release 07/01/08

With the government due to make an announcement on the future of
nuclear power in the UK, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)
reiterates its opposition to the building of new nuclear power
stations. Below are links to a selection of SGR's recent resources on
this issue, laying out our case.

Nuclear power: the security dimension
Powerpoint presentation (October 2007)

The future of nuclear power
SGR response to government's consultation document (October 2007)

Nuclear power: yes or no?
Powerpoint presentation (September 2007)

Not enough skilled workers to build new UK nuclear power stations?
Comment article (July 2006)

Open Letter to Prime Minister regarding opposition to a new
generation of nuclear power stations in the UK from 40 climate and
energy experts (April 2006)

For more information, please contact:
Dr Stuart Parkinson, <stuartp@sgr.org.uk>; mobile: 07 941 953 640


SGR is an independent UK organisation of approximately 900 members
across the natural and social sciences, engineering, IT, architecture
and design. Its main aim is to promote ethical science, design and
technology based on the principles of openness, accountability,
peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. For more
information, see http://www.sgr.org.uk/

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 01:22:42 PM EST

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