Feeds

UK nobbles nukes with hefty clean-up bill

Pay for your mess

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Energy and Climate Change minister Christopher Huhne last week made nuclear energy a whole lot less attractive. The liability for clean-up in case of a nuclear accident is currently limited to £140m. The EU has proposed increasing this to €600m (£507m). But Huhne wants to raise it to £1bn (€1.2bn).

"We've already set out how operators will be required to put aside money from day one for their eventual clean up and waste storage, and now we're increasing substantially the liability to be taken on by operators," said Huhne. Higher liabilities mean finding insurance will be harder, and more expensive.

The 2008 Energy Act requires nuclear operators to pay into a Funding Decommissioning Programme (FDP), requiring them to set aside funds for clean-up. The government will acquire the spent fuel at a fixed unit price.

The shutdown schedule

Up to eight sites are up for grabs, with four consortia bidding. Output could total 19,000 MWe of new capacity (reactor details at the HSE, here). If all the proposed build-out occurs, nuclear could provide 35 to 40 per cent of UK electricity by 2030, higher than the 1990s peak of 30 per cent, according to an independent review conducted in 2009. Currently, the UK has 19 reactors, providing 18 per cent of our electricity – but all but one is scheduled to close by 2023.

The other problem is a skilled workforce that's older than in other sectors – and closer to retirement. Around 5 per cent of the nuclear workforce retires each year, at an accelerating rate, with 70 per cent projected to leave the industry by 2025.

"This will strip the industry of the most highly trained and experienced personnel. 2015 is a critical year when decommissioning of the current fleet overlaps with both the need to begin training the operators for new power plants and the decline in experienced staff from retirements," a report from technical skills council Cogent noted last year.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, £40bn is pledged for investment into civilian nuclear energy, so perhaps a £1bn liability (for what is a very safe industry) isn't a deal-breaker. Investors are far more concerned that a floor price for carbon is established, guaranteeing a return.

Even if it is handicapped by a nuke-hostile minister, nuclear energy still looks more attractive to investors than renewables. Have a look at this Investors Chronicle piece, via Tony Newbury.

Compare what's in first place, at the top of the left hand column, with what's in last place, at the bottom of the right hand column. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.