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Picking losers’ – UK must not risk taxpayers’ billions on failed nuclear dream via The Ecologist

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Giant portions of public spending are now at risk of pouring down a nuclear power black hole as calls for the Government to make direct investments into new nuclear power plant intensify.

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And of course these demands for limitless taxpayer cash were supported by all (but one, the Green) of the candidates in the recent by-election in the Copeland constituency where Moorside is due to be built, and their respective party leaders.

We can only hope that with that out of the way, a semblance of sanity might return. But we cannot count on it. The British government has long been fanatically pro-nuclear, even as evidence mounts of the massive problems facing the industry, and the mind-boggling cost of new nuclear build.

Meanwhile it has been deliberately strangling the growth of the UK’s renewable energy industries, aiming particular venom at the most competitive technologies, onshore wind and solar.

So why does nuclear need this monstrous taxpayer ‘investment’

Simple: because nuclear power is proving to be virtually undeliverable and ruinously expensive in western countries. Toshiba’s problems stem from the fact that they own Westinghouse who are responsible for the construction (so-far non-construction) of AP1000 reactors in South Carolina and Georgia in the USA, which are creating massive multi-billion dollar cost overruns and liabilities.

These plants are as costly as the failing French EPR design that is so disastrous in the cases of the Finnish and French reactors at Olkiluoto and Flamanville, something which is bankrupting the French nuclear industry and EDF.

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Despite the manifest bankruptcy of the technology, rather than question whether it is right to continue with the new nuclear programme, its supporters are in effect wanting to bet the British economy on it.

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One rule for nuclear – other rules for everyone else!

Normally of course under the Government’s ‘low carbon’ programme, project raise their own finance and the project owners earns their money from premium price contracts (CfDs) awarded through the Government.

That is always the case with renewable energy projects. They find their own money. Electricity consumers pay a premium price to enable this on their bills. But now for nuclear to go ahead, so it is said, not only will the consumers have to pay a high premium price, but taxpayers will have to fund at least part of the construction as well.

This is money, please note, that will disappear from the Government’s coffers as the plant is built – draining billions of pounds of public money that could be paying for schools, hospitals, housing, social care and decaying public infrastructure. It is not something that will be shuffled onto future generations like decommissioning.

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