Edward Davey: New nuclear plants will have no taxpayer subsidy

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey has been talking to ITN’s Laura Kuenssberg after £700 million private companies following the announcement that Hitachi were investing £700 million in new nuclear plants. He said:

It’s a real vote of confidence from a major international company…. This is good news for the public because it’s part of our energy security strategy to keep the lights on and to make sure energy is affordable.

We have made it very clear that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear. There is no taxpayer subsidy in this at all.

Questioned on the fact that there will be a minimum price guarantee for suppliers, he added:

Because these are high capital projects, you have to put out a huge amount of money up to build an offshore wind farm, or a carbon capture and storage plant or a nuclear plant, by making sure that the risks are reduced, by having a clear price, that reduces the cost of capital which reduces the total cost so it reduces the price people pay for their electricity.

You can see the whole interview here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Leekliberal 30th Oct '12 - 7:15pm

    If true this is greatly welcome given the inevitability of nuclear to provide base load ie keep the lights on while the wind turbines are still. What a shame we didn’t construct non-nuclear generation green capacity while we could. Are the notionally carbon-neutral nuclear stations benefiting from the climate change levy which I see as a subsidy? Their construction certainly won’t be carbon neutral and we must remember that we have not effectively dealt with a single gram of nuclear waste since Calder Hall was commissioned in 1956. What a legacy to leave to future generations!

  • Simon McGrath 30th Oct '12 - 7:25pm

    This is nonsense. There is a clear case for nuclear power but to suggest that it isnt being subsidised is simply not true. The subsidy is from electricty users who will have pay more for their power if the guaranteed price is higher than the price of other ways of generating electricty.

    Does Davey think the public are fools?

  • Anyone seen the “high alert” for a nuclear station in New jersey? Fukushima really should have been our big alert in Britain, as it was in Germany and elsewhere. How long does it take to learn here? And how is it that the Lib dems, of all parties, when actually in power, have given way to new nuclear, just at the wrong moment. Now we are seriously entering the era of climate change with accompanying frequent extreme storms etc we cannot afford to take major risks with human, or other populations.

  • Kirsten de Keyser 30th Oct '12 - 8:21pm

    So, let me get this right;
    Hitachi helps to build Fukushima
    Fukushima can’t withstand a Tsunami and breaks up
    Japan decides it’s safer to withdraw from nuclear power
    Hitachi buys the rights to build two nuclear plants in the UK
    …now where did I put my passport

  • cynicalHighlander 30th Oct '12 - 8:23pm

    Edward Davey must think that we zip up the back . The government consultation was questioned about the alleged zero CO2 emissions and their response was ‘Not in our opinion’ with no links to justify that opinion.

    Nuclear power insights

  • jenny barnes 30th Oct '12 - 8:30pm

    So in 25 years when Hitachi UK nuclear power unaccountably goes bust just at the point where the power stations need to be decommissioned and all that tasty nuclear waste stored – who picks up the tab? Looks just like a revamped PFI scam to me. The taxpayer is on the hook for minimum price per kw, and almost certainly for decommissioning. Why don’t we just own the things? Or would it be bad for the “market” if the private sector didn’t make a profit out of the taxpayer making a loss?

  • Simon, I thought they werent offering price guarantees…. The main issues are around planned decomissioning or cleanup costs resulting from an accident, as the taxpayer is likely to be on the hook for that saying now there is no subsidy is about 40 years premature. Im saying this as a supporter of Nuclear. I dont trust the Government to run this in such a way that shareholders and insurers bear the risk rather than taxpayers.

  • Fiona White 31st Oct '12 - 8:10am

    I accept that Ed Davey was correct when he said there would be no taxpayer subsidy for the building of these plants. However in the Radio 4 interview I heard he also said there had been no discussions about pricing. While I may not have to pay extra in taxes I am no better off if the money saved has to go in premium prices for the electricity I use. The bottom line in my bank account ends up the same.
    I am not saying we shouldn’t go down the nuclear route but we do need a very clear picture of all the implications.

  • Liberal Eye 31st Oct '12 - 2:52pm

    It’s a real vote of confidence from a major international company….

    Within the lifetime of many still alive Britain ruled a large part of the world; now we have fallen so low that a government minister thinks it appropriate to boast that a large foreign company is prepared to invest here.

    Get real! In a global recession what is mainly lacking is demand and that is something we have plenty of thanks to the dithering that has characterised energy policy for so long and the resulting investment backlog we now have to make up. Ditto airports, trains etc. So Hitachi must be absolutely delighted and amazed to get the lion’s share of the action – in nuclear now, in trains only recently. They would never get this chance in, say, China except on strict conditions of technology transfer and local content.

    Of course, given where we are there just isn’t time to develop a domestic alternative so Ed Davey was probably left with little real choice but that in turn rather shows up the emptiness of successive governments’ committments to develop an industrial revival based on high tech. How are we actually going to earn our living in the future?

  • Gareth Aubrey 31st Oct '12 - 4:24pm

    But Simon, your example makes the point that it isn’t a nuclear-specific issue; by all means ask nuclear to do it, but also ask hydro to do it and watch as the one reliable renewal electricity source we have collapses in five seconds flat…

  • In October 1957 Britain spread a plume of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere from a nuclear reactor fire at Sellafield. (Re named Windscale) 1957, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukishima disasters followed.

    The Fukushima accident has affected the whole world of ‘recycled’ fuel. The Sellafield plant accepted spent nuclear fuel waste products from Japan, and now Japan will not take that nuclear waste back, after it cancelled all of it’s plans and shut down all 50 plus nuclear power plants in the nation of Japan.

    So who pays for decommssioning, who pays for burying or storing the nuclear waste, who pays the billions needed for a clean up after an accident.

    Whatever happend to geothermal power, Wave and tidal power, effective solar power, and alll those fine alternatie that the Lib Dems used to promote. Now we have imported coal, gas, oil and nuclear, exactly what we had in the 1970’s

    We were told that nuclearpower would be too cheap to meter………..

  • Paul McKeown 1st Nov '12 - 5:22pm

    Has government policy on low carbon energy, particularly wind, changed?

    I would appreciate reassurance here from Ed Davey, the noises off are starting to sound like the main story.

    As for nuclear, just offer reasonable guarantees and have it built. We won’t entirely decarbonise our economy at the present without a new generation of nuclear reactors. Build the Severn Barrage as well, please, roll out all the interconnectors and the smart grid adaptions that are needed. Just get on with it.

    The opponents of nuclear tend to demonise the industry with enormously exaggerated risks, whilst the track record has been one of an impressive safety record. A comparison of world wide deaths over the last half century per generated terawatt hour per annum between coal, oil, gas and fission will certainly not provide evidence that the opponents of nuclear will wish to hear. And that is without the certainty of climate change with devastating global impact weighed against the mere potential for localised harm should all the safety systems of a nuclear plant fail in their entirety.

  • jenny barnes 2nd Nov '12 - 11:50am

    tom papworth > Apparently, part of the deal is that a proportion of the operating profits of the power stations is hived away each year in a decommissioning account that is outside Hitachi’s control (and so not part of their assets if they go into receivership). Effectively, the decommissioning costs are already “priced in”.

    So they have to pay for the decommissioning during operation. But they’re being subsidised, and they know the y are, so the taxpayer / energy buyer has to pay, really. At least it’s up front, but the company doesn’t have a magic money pot which doesn’t come from one of those 2 sources.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Joe Bourke
    There was never anywhere near enough occupying forces in Iraq to maintain law and order in a country the size of France. The American administration was fatally...
  • Fiona
    Boris Johnson is racist and sexist and a habitual liar. If our ambitions are limited by the actions of recent Prime Ministers are we suggesting that LibDems are...
  • Andrew Hickey
    "I am sure there are some extremists on the GC side, but, if you use the definition of GC that I have found, a very large number of UK residents are GC. And I d...
  • Richard Gadsden
    I should add at this point that there were two further constitutional amendments that I submitted to the cancelled Autumn Conference (one adding young people to...
  • David Garlick
    @Martin I agree entirely. Well almost. Those under 30 yoa will suffer and suffer badly from Climate Change. I want our Party to be like King (then Prince' Charl...