One clear difference between renewables and nuclear power is that the former do not lead to the production of long-lived radioactive wastes and the associated problems and costs of dealing with them. Also, old wind and solar facilities can be easily removed, whereas nuclear plant decommissioning is complicated, risky and expensive. With a new UK nuclear expansion programme planned, how much will it cost us to eventually clean it up and deal with its wastes? Hinkley will be the first of the proposed new plants. In June 2016, Andrea Leadsom, then an Energy Minister in DECC (now of course also departed) said that it was estimated that the decommissioning and long-term radioactive waste management costs for EDFs proposed Hinkley 3.2 GW plant will be‘around £2/MWh of the strike price’– which has been set at £92.5/MWh, under the Contract for Difference (CfD) subsidy scheme. It’s hard to know how realistic this £2 figure is and exactly what it covers. And it proved worryingly hard to get the full information. However now new estimates have emerged for at least part of it: reportedly, the cost of clean up/decommissioning will be between £5.9bn and £7.2bn with a start in the decades long dismantling and clean-up programme being made in the 2080s. All being well, this will be the responsibility of the operator, with contingency extras added in to the legal agreement to cover any overshoot. Though who knows if those will be sufficient- all previous decommissioning estimates have proved to be wrong.
Environmental Research Web 31st Dec 2016 read more »