The agreement signed today in London between British Nuclear Fuels and British Energy to assess the feasibility of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor as an eventual replacement for UK’s AGR power stations has been met with scepticism by local anti-nuclear group CORE.
A spokesperson for the group said today
“BNFL’s Chief Executive has described the agreement as ‘a significant step forward in the quest to build a replacement nuclear power station in the UK’. CORE sees it more as the first steps of sleepwalking into yet another nuclear pipedream that will never materialise.”
With the expected sleight of hand, the joint BNFL/British Energy press release announcing the agreement deliberately ducks the problems ahead for new nuclear build in the UK. It makes no reference to the conclusions of the PIU’s recently published Energy Review which highlight the high cost of nuclear power and the unresolved problems of nuclear waste disposal acting as deterrents to any new nuclear power station build.
The Review, stating its overall preference for a major expansion of renewable energies, also makes it clear that there is no case for Government financial support for new nuclear build by an already established global industry with a mature technology, and that the costs were a matter for the private sector. British Energy estimates that electricity from the new power stations would be 40% more expensive than the current market price. The cost of the new reactors is estimated at around £1Bn each.
“Realistically, the private sector is unlikely to want to be implicated in a futuristic deal cobbled together by a cash-strapped British Energy and an insolvent BNFL with their respective baggages of waste and decommissioning problems.