Government will need to finance nuclear power

Bristol Evening Post, October 16, 2009

A leading energy policy professor claimed companies that wanted to build a new generation of nuclear power stations would need help from the Government if the plants were to be provided.

Despite assurances from ministers that they could be built without subsidy, Professor Stephen Thomas predicted that would not be the case when the time came for decisions to be made.

The professor of energy policy at Greenwich University made his forecast in Oldbury-on-Severn, near Thornbury, in the shadow of the atomic plant that has operated for 40 years, and close to the site in Shepperdine where one of the new stations could be built.

Professor Thomas was the first lecturer to be invited to talk to people by campaigners opposed to the new plant.

A leading authority on the economics of the nuclear power industry, he questioned whether atomic power was a cheap option. He said when Oldbury was built, it was not hard to find money to pay for the station.

Today's competitive electricity markets meant building plants was a big risk, with construction costs increasing at least five fold, and probably more, in 10 years.

Professor Thomas said a big problem was also emerging as a result of fewer nuclear engineers and other experts in the atomic field being trained.

Power companies Eon and RWE are behind the Shepperdine proposal and they have bought up acres of land.

Professor Thomas said: "I think in 2013 these companies will go to the Government and say that without some subsidy, nuclear cannot be financed."

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Page Updated 16-Oct-2009