U.K. Expert: U.S. is Not Losing International ‘Race’ on Nuclear Power With France and Other Nations
No “Nuclear Renaissance” on the Continent: French, Finnish, and U.K. Experiences Hold Little Relevance for U.S. – Other Than As Cautionary Tales; Copying
The U.K. energy expert said that, not only is nuclear power in
Thomas said: “We’ve been waiting in vain on a ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ in
The University of Greenwich Professor added: “For example, the mistaken notion that the
In a briefing for reporters, Thomas focused on three nations often cited by U.S. proponents of moving ahead with new nuclear reactors in this nation:
Finland: This month, the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finlandwas supposed to start producing power. Instead, the plant is at least three and a half years late and more than 50 percent over-budget. Olkiluoto was to be the “poster child” for the new generation of nuclear power plant designs that would drive the “Nuclear Renaissance” and if any nuclear project was going to go well. Instead, it has become an example of all that can go wrong in economic terms with new reactors. The vendor (Areva NP) and the utility are in bitter dispute over who will bear the cost overruns and there is a real risk now that the utility will default.
France: Even in France, where the same design as at Olkiluoto is under construction at Flamanville, things are not going smoothly. After 18 months of construction and a series of quality control problems, the project is more than 20 percent over budget and EDF is struggling to keep it on schedule. However, the French government strongly supports nuclear power through the utility, EDF (85% state-owned), and the vendor, Areva NP (more than 90% state-owned).
United Kingdom: In the U.K., Tony Blair’sassertion in 2006 that nuclear power was “back with a vengeance” is proving slow to turn into reality. The first new order is unlikely before 2013 and by this time there could be two general elections and waning governmental support, which has driven things so far. In 2006, the British government began a safety assessment of the competing designs and announced it would streamline licensing and planning processes, believing that this would be sufficient for orders to be placed without the need for government subsidies. Progress has been slow, the reforms to planning are still being formulated and skill shortages in the safety regulator are delaying licensing. The French utility EDF, which owns the Britain’snuclear utility, British Energy, is saying that existing renewable energy targets must be reduced if they are not to hamper efforts to build nuclear plants in the U.K. Falling fossil fuel prices (less than US$40per barrel of oil), have already substantially reduced wholesale electricity prices and this could put British Energy in major difficulties, as happened in 2002 when the government had to bail it out at a cost to taxpayers of more than $15 billion.
And what about other nations in
Thomas said: “In the countries where there have been suggestions that existing nuclear phase-out policies would be reversed —
The lesson for
Examples of Professor Thomas’ recent work are available upon request by contacting
ABOUT PROFESSOR THOMAS
Professor Thomas has been a researcher in energy policy for more than 25 years. He writes particularly on economics and policy towards nuclear power, liberalization and privatization of the electricity and gas industries and trade policy on network energy industries. He is a member of the editorial boards of: Energy Policy, Utility Policy, Energy and Environment, and International Journal of Regulation and Governance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the news event will be available on the Web at http://www.psr.org/NuclearMyth as of
SOURCE Professor Stephen