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UK Government Supports New Nuclear Reactor Designs

Date: 19-Oct-10
Country: UK
Author: Karolin Schaps, Kwok Wan and Daniel Fineren

UK Government Supports New Nuclear Reactor Designs Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
Power lines and pylons stretch out from Dungeness nuclear power station in south east England August 24, 2010.
Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

The British government said on Monday nuclear power reactor designs from developer Westinghouse and French EDF and Areva were necessary for building new plants in Britain.

Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne also reiterated the government's promise not to support construction of new nuclear power stations through public funding.

"This means that there will be no levy, direct payment or market support for electricity supplied or capacity provided by a private sector new nuclear operator," Huhne said, announcing the National Policy Statement in the British Parliament.

The policy update also clarified that the list of potential sites for hosting new nuclear power plants had been cut to eight from 10.

Kinksanton and Breystones in Cumbria are no longer considered suitable sites due to the potential impact of nuclear facilities on the nearby Lake District National Park, the government said.

The site at Dungeness in Kent was also scrapped from the list, as previously announced.

Even though the government will not make direct subsidies for new nuclear power plants, Huhne said he would not rule out that the state may take on financial risks or liabilities related to new nuclear plants for which it is compensated.

Later this year the government will also consult on implementing a tougher regime for nuclear plant operators and whether to maintain a limit on operator liability to ensure risk is correctly managed.

SEVERN TIDAL POWER PROJECT SCRAPPED

The British government is also not going to fund the Severn tidal power project and does not intend to review the scheme until 2015, Huhne said.

"The government does not see a strategic case at this time for public funding of a tidal scheme to generate energy in the Severn estuary," he said.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) feasibility study also published on Monday said the Severn tidal scheme could cost as much as 34 billion pounds ($54.01 billion) and would be high cost and high risk compared with other low carbon power generation schemes.

"Over their 120 year lifetime, Severn tidal power schemes could in some circumstances play a cost-effective role in meeting our long term energy targets. But in most cases other renewables (e.g. wind) and nuclear power represent better value," the report said.

It also cited the impact on bird and fish habitat as other reasons why funding was dropped.

But DECC did not rule out the scheme entirely, and said the 14 meter high tides in the Severn estuary could produce up to 5 percent of Britain's electricity needs.

The Severn tidal power was planned to be built in west England near Bristol.

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