Subsidy assessment of waste transfer pricing for disposal of spent fuel from new nuclear power stations

Publication date: 1st March 2011

A key plank of the government’s Coalition Agreement was that any new nuclear power would not be subsidised. Liberal Democrat policy couldn’t be clearer – ‘Reject a new generation of nuclear power stations based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy.’ Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted again that there would be no public subsidy. But new nuclear power stations are not profitable without massive subsidies from the public purse. The government plans at least 10 new nuclear reactors for Britain.

New evidence from independent nuclear economist Ian Jackson shows the government is planning billions in subsidy despite its promises – drawing investment away from the clean, safe alternatives.

£4.45 billion is planned to subsidise radioactive waste management and disposal from new reactors – costs and risks are being brought onto the public balance sheet through cut price ‘Waste Transfer’ contracts.

Other planned subsidies for nuclear power include:

  • a windfall of well over £1.3 billion for existing nuclear power generating companies from the new Carbon Floor Price in the Finance Bill – starting in this parliamentary term.
  • Subsidies to protect the nuclear industry from the insurance costs and liability for a major accident. In the event of an accident a nuclear operator does not have to pay the full costs of claims made after the first £1.06bn. Above this level, the taxpayer picks up the bill or the victims have to bear the costs.
  • Civil servants in BIS are working up models to use the new publicly-funded Green Investment Bank to fund new nuclear reactors – directly reducing the investment available for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Download Ian Jackson’s independent report for Greenpeace to read the full details.

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