Future European Nuclear Reactors Construction In Doubt After Subsidy Complaint

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A formal complaint about subsidies for nuclear power has been sent to the European Commission which, if upheld, would make it unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built in the EU.  The complaint has been prepared by lawyers for the UK-based Energy Fair group, with several other environmental groups, and may be followed by legal action to reduce or remove subsidies for nuclear power.

One of the largest subsidies listed by the German legal firm BBH, is the cap on liabilities for nuclear accidents which nuclear power developers have negotiated with governments.

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The group calculates that, if nuclear operators were fully insured against the cost of nuclear disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima, the price of nuclear electricity would rise by at least €0.14 per kWh and perhaps as much as €2.36, depending on assumptions made.

Lawyer Dorte Fouquet described EU energy policy as being based on a level playing field for an open market.

“Like car drivers, the operators of nuclear plants should be properly insured,” said Gerry Wolff, coordinator of the Energy Fair group which lodged the complaint with the EU’s Competition directorate-general.

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The group lists the following subsidies or potential subsidies:

  • Tax exemption. Uranium is exempted from the tax on fuels used for the generation of electricity
  • Feed-in tariffs with contracts for difference. Although it is a mature technology that should not need subsidies, nuclear power would be eligible for the same system of subsidies as is proposed for renewable sources
  • Capacity mechanism. The UK government’s proposals for a ‘capacity mechanism’ as a backstop for the power supply system are not yet finalised. However, there is potential for the proposed mechanism to be used to provide unjustified support for nuclear power
  • Emissions Performance Standard. Although nuclear power causes between nine and 25 times more carbon emissions than wind power, it appears that the effect of the proposed new standard would, for the foreseeable future, be to lump them together as if they were equivalent.

Source: EAEM UK

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