Parliament 2010-09-09

Nuclear Power: Finance

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the policy of his Department is on provision of subsidies for the construction of new nuclear power stations. [14131]

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Charles Hendry: The coalition agreement makes clear that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear power stations.

Nuclear Power: Insolvency

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether an assessment has been made of the merits of creating a special administration regime for a nuclear plant operator which becomes insolvent and is unable to maintain its nuclear plants; and whether his Department has discussed the matter with the Insolvency Service. [14080]

Charles Hendry: The Department has had discussions with the Insolvency Service over whether, in addition to the relevant provisions of the Energy Act 2008, a special administration regime for nuclear operators is required. It has concluded, for existing nuclear operators, that such a regime is not required but will keep the matter under review given the potential for new nuclear build.

Nuclear Power: Scotland

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the contribution of the Scottish nuclear energy industry to (a) energy security and (b) carbon dioxide reduction targets. [13629]

Charles Hendry [holding answer 8 September 2010]: The Department does not assess the contribution of nuclear power to energy security and carbon dioxide reduction on a sub-national basis.

Sub-national electricity statistics, including nuclear generation in Scotland, are published annually in Energy Trends. The latest figures are available at:

These show that in 2008, nuclear stations in Scotland generated 15.1 TWh of electricity (around 4% of total UK generation).

Nuclear Reactors: Thorium

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment his Department has made of the use of thorium-based nuclear reactors. [13659]

Charles Hendry [holding answer 8 September 2010]: DECC officials maintain an oversight of developments in future reactor designs and thorium continues to be a possibility for use as a fuel in nuclear power reactors. This involves the Department working with technical experts both from industry and academia and in this respect I am making arrangements to host a meeting with Professor Ian Fells to explore topics of this nature.

Ultimately it is for the industry to propose what type of fuel to use in any future nuclear reactors, the designs of which would be subject to independent regulatory assessment and acceptance. At present the UK safety and environment regulators are undertaking a generic design assessment process on two new nuclear reactor designs that use uranium oxide fuel. No proposals have been made for reactor designs using thorium based nuclear fuel, but we would of course consider a proposal if one was to come forward.