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Climate Change Committee Wants “£50 Billion And More” Subsidies For Nuclear Industry

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Daniel Kemp, Tom Fitzpatrick, Construction News

The government should extend state-backed guarantees to all nuclear new build projects, according to a report out by the Energy and Climate Change Committee today. It said the government should offer UK Guarantees to “all nuclear new build projects”, even if this required “increasing the amount of available assistance to more than £50 billion”.

In the Building New Nuclear: the challenges ahead report published today by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, MPs said they were pleased about potential government support for the Hinkley Point C project, as revealed in Construction Newslast month.

But it called for similar backing to be given to projects that are further away from final investment decisions, such as the NuGen and Horizon projects.

It said the government should offer UK Guarantees to “all nuclear new build projects”, even if this required “increasing the amount of available assistance to more than £50 billion”.

The report also criticised the Department of Energy and Climate Change for not appearing to have a contingency plan should new nuclear collapse in the UK.

The report states: “For a department whose principal priorities are to ensure energy security and carbon reductions, DECC appears to be overly reliant on aspiration and hope. While we share the Minister’s hope that new build will be delivered as planned, we nevertheless recommend that DECC begins exploring contingency options as a matter of urgency.”

MPs were also concerned about the level of construction risk associated with nuclear projects, after reactors similar to Hinkley Point C in France and Finland have experienced major cost overruns.

Committee chair Tim Yeo MP criticised a “lack of transparency” around the discussions between governenment and EDF on Contracts for Difference (which the committee said should not be more than that given to offshore wind) and added: “Government needs to provide more clarity about exactly what forms of support new nuclear projects will receive and whether consumers, taxpayers or project developers will have to cough up if construction costs end up being higher than anticipated.”

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