EDF has dismissed claims by the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister that nuclear power may be too expensive in the wake of Japan’s atomic disaster at Fukushima.
Nick Clegg warned nuclear operators may not be able to afford to build new plants because of possible extra safety requirements, reported the Daily Telegraph.
However, EDF, the French owner of nuclear operator British Energy, said work was continuing with its investment and insisted it would not need extra subsidies. The company is planning to spend about GBP10bn ($16bn) building the UK’s first two new nuclear stations by 2018 with its partner Centrica.
“As investors in new nuclear, we are continuing work on our project,” EDF said. “The reactor design we are proposing for new-build already incorporates decades of learning and prioritizes safety.
“Our project will also incorporate lessons from Japan. The Secretary of State made the Government position on subsidy clear to parliament in October. Our view on subsidies also remains unchanged. We are not seeking any subsidies for our new nuclear plants in the UK.”
Despite the UK government’s claims that nuclear has not been subsidized, a range of new incentives to encourage the construction of nuclear plants will substantially raise the price of electricity bills for customers. However, the new measures will be enough to encourage nuclear only if electricity from the plants is as cheap or cheaper than power from renewable energy and gas generation.
RWE npower, which is building the second wave of new nuclear power stations along with E.ON, has already expressed fears about increased costs caused by Japan’s disaster.
Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, warned last week that plants could be delayed because of higher costs and more stringent safety requirements.
Mike Weightman, the UK’s chief inspector of nuclear plants, is due to present a report on possible extra safety requirements by mid-May and a final report by September.
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