Government and the EC

The UK government

Letters, emails, and memoranda

  • Letter to Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, 2011-04-05.
  • Email and letter to Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, 2010-05-26.

  • Follow on letter to Chris Huhne MP, 2010-07-22.

Government reports and consultations

The coalition Government, 2010

The Lib-Con coalition Government established following the UK elections in May 2010 has made a commitment that any new nuclear power stations should "receive no public subsidy" ("The Coalition: our programme for government", page 17).

If this commitment means what it says, none of the subsidies identified in the Nuclear Subsidies report will be provided for any new nuclear power stations.

The Energy Fair group, with others, will be working to try to ensure that the Government honours its commitment. With regard to the seven types of subsidies described in the Nuclear Subsidies report, we will be pressing the Government to ensure that:

  • The operators of any new nuclear power stations should pay the full costs of insurance against accidents, disposal of nuclear waste,  decommissioning of nuclear plants, and so on.

  • Where there is uncertainty about what costs may be in the future, the operators of any new nuclear plants should be required to take out appropriate insurance. If such insurance cannot be obtained commercially, the operators should be required to pay premiums to the Government as the insurer of last resort. In this case, the size of the premiums would be calculated by independent actuarial experts.

We will also be working to try to ensure that the Government's declared intention of creating "a floor price for carbon" is exactly that, and not some back-door subsidy for nuclear power.

Relevant news will be posted on this page.

New forms of support for the nuclear industry?

News reports suggest that, despite the subsidies described in the Nuclear Subsidies report, nuclear companies and investors will not be prepared to build new nuclear power stations in the UK unless they receive even more support (see, for example, 'More incentives needed for nuclear', says Energy Minister Charles Hendry, Daily Telegraph, 2010-11-05). It appears from that report that the main kinds of support that are being considered are:

  • A floor price for carbon emissions or something else that may be portrayed as a floor price for carbon emissions.

  • Capacity payments for low-carbon electricity generation: "This would reward companies for making their electricity generation capacity available to the grid, even if it is just as a back-up.".

  • An obligation on suppliers to provide a certain proportion of low-carbon power or contracts-for-difference in the electricity market.

With the possible exception of the first item, it is likely that these forms of support would be subsidies for nuclear power, additional to those described in the Nuclear Subsidies report. Whether or not they may be regarded as subsidies is discussed in the following pages:

EDMs

  • EDM 150 10-11 Nuclear power and public subsidies (Paul Flynn).

  • EDM 557 10-11 Enquiry into new nuclear power stations (Martin Caton).

Questions and statements in Parliament

  • 2012-09-13 (transparency in setting of strike price).

The EC

Hinkley Point

Complaint

European Commission and state aid

  • Open letter to Commissioner Almunia: No valid justification for subsidising nuclear power. Sent December 2013.

  • Letter sent to MEPs, 2012-04-19.
  • Hansard, 2011-05-24:

    Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): I welcome the green investment bank. Will the Secretary of State confirm, however, that the EU Commission has written to the Government expressing its concerns, under state aid rules, that the Government’s proposals in the electricity market reform for contracts for different feed-in tariffs and a floor price for carbon may constitute a subsidy for nuclear? If it has done so, will he make the letter available in the Library?

    Vince Cable: I cannot confirm that. If the information is available, I am sure we can pursue it in the proper way. As it happens, I met the Competition Commissioner last week and he did not refer to that, but he is alerted to the green investment bank state aid application, and he will deal with it professionally, I am sure.