The cost of decommissioning the UK’s seven ageing nuclear power stations has nearly doubled to £23.5bn and is likely to rise further, the public accounts committee has said. The soaring costs of safely decommissioning the advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs), including Dungeness B, Hunsterston B and Hinkley B, are being loaded on to the taxpayer, their report said. Failures in the government’s investment strategy for the fund, which was set up to pay for the decommissioning, have led to the taxpayer topping it up by an additional £10.7bn in just two years. The nuclear power stations are owned by EDF Energy and provide much of the UK’s nuclear power-generated electricity, which makes up 16% of the energy mix. But the stations are nearing the end of their lives and are scheduled to stop generating electricity during this decade. The government has recently agreed that once the stations have been defuelled by EDF, which involves the removal of all the spent fuel from the reactor core and cooling ponds, ownership of the stations will be transferred to the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to complete decommissioning.
Guardian 20th May 2022 read more »
Despite government already having had to provide additional funding of £10.7 billion, there remains a strong likelihood that more taxpayers’ money will be required to meet the costs of decommissioning the seven Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor nuclear power stations. The Nuclear Liabilities Fund, which was set up to meet the decommissioning costs of these stations, has not kept up with the increased costs of decommissioning or met its investment targets. In response, government has chosen to top up the Fund with taxpayers’ money, providing an injection of capital of £5.1 billion in 2020–21 with a further £5.6 billion expected in 2021–22. HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have opted to maintain an investment strategy for the Fund whereby around 80% of its assets are invested in the National Loans Fund currently earning minimal returns. Estimated decommissioning costs on the other hand have almost doubled since March 2004, estimated at £23.5 billion in March 2021, and there remains a significant risk that the costs could rise further putting strain on the Fund.
Public Accounts Committee 20th May 2022 read more »
The UK government is being urged to check the possibility of extending the lives of power stations after MPs warned the closure of seven sites by 2028 will “significantly reduce” UK energy-generation with no immediate replacement except imports. The Public Accounts Committee said decommissioning dates of power stations were clear decades ago. It said in a report that the terms of the 2009 sale of seven nuclear power stations to EDF Energy “placed a disproportionate amount of risk for meeting future decommissioning costs on the taxpayer.” Failures in the government’s investment strategy for the Nuclear Liabilities Fund have seen the taxpayer having to top it up by an additional GBP10.7 billion in two years, said the committee. “The fund, set up to meet the decommissioning costs of the seven Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor nuclear power stations now owned by EDF, has failed to meet its investment targets or keep up with increased estimates of decommissioning costs, which have almost doubled since March 2004 to GBP23.5 billion in March 2021,” said the committee. The committee recommended that the government and EDF should “double-check whether it would be technically feasible, safe and cost-effective to extend the lives of any of the remaining operating stations”.
London South East 20th May 2022 read more »