Letter sent to MEPs, 2012-04-19

To #name# MEP. NO SUBSIDIES FOR NUCLEAR POWER

Dear #name#,

Despite one report to the contrary (bit.ly/HGErg1), it appears that there is substance in reports (bit.ly/ID84P1, bit.ly/HHt9FZ) that four European countries have called on the EU to allow nuclear power to get the same kinds of subsidies as solar and wind power -- on the grounds that it is “an emissions-free technology”.

For reasons given in the example letter, below, nuclear power should NOT get subsidies of any kind. Far from allowing nuclear power to receive new subsidies, the EU should be getting rid of existing subsidies for nuclear power (bit.ly/wPVERU).

Please write to the Director-General for Competition, Alexander Italianer (alexander.italianer [AT] ec.europa.eu), Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger (guenther.oettinger [AT] ec.europa.eu), and President José Manuel Barroso (jose-manuel.barroso [AT] ec.europa.eu), asking them to do all in their power to ensure that nuclear plants will NOT be eligible for any new subsidies, and to remove existing subsidies for nuclear power. As I mentioned, there is an example letter below.


Many thanks!


Gerry Wolff


--

Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng


Coordinator, Energy Fair


gerrywolff65 [AT] gmail.com, +44 (0) 1248 712962, +44 (0) 7746 290775, Skype: gerry.wolff, www.energyfair.org.uk .


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EXAMPLE LETTER (alexander.italianer [AT] ec.europa.eu, guenther.oettinger [AT] ec.europa.eu, jose-manuel.barroso [AT] ec.europa.eu)


Subject line: NO SUBSIDIES FOR NUCLEAR POWER


Dear Director-General Italianer, Commissioner Oettinger, and President Barroso,


Despite one report to the contrary (bit.ly/HGErg1), it appears that there is substance in reports (bit.ly/ID84P1, bit.ly/HHt9FZ) that four European countries have called on the EU to allow nuclear power to get the same kinds of subsidies as solar and wind power -- on the grounds that it is “an emissions-free technology”.

But:
  • Nuclear power is far from being an emissions-free technology. Peer-reviewed research shows that the nuclear cycle emits between 9 and 25 times as much CO2 as wind power (Energy Policy, 2010, Part I , doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040, bit.ly/mPTv74).
  • Nuclear power is already heavily subsidised (bit.ly/wPVERU). The Economist has written that "More than half of the subsidies (in real terms) ever lavished on energy by OECD governments have gone to the nuclear industry." The Union of Concerned Scientists has written that “Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away.”
  • Nuclear power plants are notoriously slow to build. In general, renewables can be built very much faster than nuclear plants (bit.ly/HSMPY9). If we are worried about cutting emissions quickly (and we should be), or if we are worried about any possible shortfall in supplies, then renewables are the way to go.
  • Far from providing security of energy supplies, failure of a nuclear power station is exceptionally disruptive on the grid. By contrast, gradual and predictable variations in output from renewables are much easier to manage. There is now a range of techniques that can ensure robust and reliable supplies of electricity from 100% renewable sources of power (bit.ly/I4E5vr).
  • There is good evidence from reputable sources that there are more than enough renewable sources of power to meet all our needs for energy (not just electricity) now and for the foreseeable future (bit.ly/9MKP5i). There are now many reports showing how to decarbonise the world’s economies without nuclear power (bit.ly/wRQ8ro). And several countries are now aiming to decarbonise their economies without nuclear power.
  • Contrary to the often-repeated claim that nuclear power is cheap, it is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity (bit.ly/IlTB8Y).
  • Nuclear power is a long-established industry that should be commercially-viable without support. Subsidies should be reserved for renewable technologies that are relatively new and have not yet reached the bottom of their cost-reduction curves.
  • Nuclear power has many problems (bit.ly/IyslTI) including the risk of disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima, the still-unsolved problem of what to do with waste that will remain dangerous for thousands of years, and facilitating the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • The tumbling cost of photovoltaics and the falling cost of other renewables mean that, by the time any new nuclear power station could be built, much of the market for its electricity will be disappearing (see “Market Risk” in “The financial risks of investing in new nuclear power plants” (bit.ly/JhdNtL)). This could lead to a situation where poorer people are forced to pay for nuclear white elephants (see “A subsidy for nuclear power and its unintended consequences” (bit.ly/OhrPfO)).

In terms of the fight against climate change, security of energy supplies, and other considerations, nuclear power diverts attention, effort, and large amounts of money away from better and cheaper solutions, where those resources would be more effectively spent.

Please do all in your power to ensure that nuclear plants will NOT be eligible for any new subsidies, and to remove existing subsidies for nuclear power.

With thanks,

[Name etc]