Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Will Wylfa B ever be built?


The above chart comes from a report on Debt released yesterday by the management consultants McKinsey & Company - it shows that the UK is now the most indebted country in the world. Particularly frightening is the rapid acceleration of debt since around 2004 - well before Northern Rock and global economic crisis which followed that.

What does this mean for Anglesey? 

As we discussed yesterday, both Labour and the Conservative Party have resolved that any new nuclear power stations - such as Wylfa B - must not require any public subsidy. As the public cupboard is completely bare you might say that is just as well - except for one small problem: it seems increasingly likely that private companies such as Horizon Nuclear Power (the RWE npower/E.On UK nuclear joint venture which has purchased land around the existing Wylfa reactor in order to possibly construct Wylfa B) will not be able to build new nuclear installations without public subsidy. On January 22nd, 2010, the National Audit Office (NAO) released a report which stated that:

"EDF (which bought the UK Government's stake in British Energy) did not give the Government any 'binding commitment' that it would build the power stations or that taxpayers would not have to pick up the costs of cleaning up nuclear waste. 
'It [the Government] remains responsible for funding any shortfall in the future cost of decommissioning British Energy’s existing nuclear power stations"

That refers to new nuclear plants - but unfortunately, due to poor planning at the time, the Government is also liable for covering the costs for the decommissioning and disposal of nuclear waste from existing nuclear plants too. Some estimates put this cost at a staggering £90Bn! So before even one brick is laid at a new nuclear plant, an already completely broke government is liable for £90Bn (equivalent to three times the annual defence budget) just to clear up the mess from the old plants.

The Labour government has publicly committed itself through its Fiscal Responsibility Bill (fully supported by Albert Owen) to halving the public debt over the next four years. Can they really dramatically cut public debt whilst at the same time spending vast sums to clean up old plants and fund new plants such as Wylfa B at the same time?

Wylfa B is looking increasingly economically unlikely - and the Druid wonders whether Albert Owen - despite his bravado in the local press - knows this already..?

No comments: