Media release: New Nuclear Energy Policy Forum debates the real cost of nuclear energy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 JUNE 2016
NUCLEAR ENERGY POLICY FORUM
The real cost of nuclear energy
Tim Yeo, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE), today hosted the first in a series of Paris-based Nuclear Energy Policy Forum events organised by the nuclear interest group. NNWE has regularly drawn attention to the risks of innovation, in terms of cost and delay, and has made calls for a comparative study of all available nuclear technologies to understand fully the risks associated with first-of-a-kind versus nth-of-a-kind.
Commenting on the event, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, Tim Yeo said: “The purpose of the Nuclear Energy Policy Forum is to tackle the key technical issues facing the European nuclear industry today. On the real cost of nuclear, NNWE advocates the need for a proper study of all available nuclear technologies, both first-of-a-kind and nth-of-a-kind, to understand fully the issues of cost, deployability and benefits to the local economy”.
Some 23 reactors are either under construction or are planned across Europe over the next decade. Amid concerns of cost and delay, it is important to consider the real cost of nuclear, which demands a full appraisal of the competitiveness of the technology, in terms of the risk of escalating cost and delay, and the benefits, both economic and environmental. Much debate centres around first-of-a-kind versus nth-of-a-kind and today’s event adds to that important conversation.
After hearing from Tim Yeo, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, Michel Spiro, currently President of the French Physics Society and member of the scientific committee of the Nuclear Safety Authority; Gilles Mathonniére, a specialist at the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission); and Philippe Chalmin, an economist at the Paris-Dauphine University, gave their views and opinions.
Gilles Mathonnière, a prospective specialist at the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), commented on the future of a decarbonised energy mix in France, stating: “Two main factors will limit variable renewable energy share in the overall mix: technical aspects due to their intermittency; and economic aspects due to the increased system costs as their share rises. Today, it is not possible to predict this energy share, but it would probably be under 40% of total output. Precise economic studies have yet to be completed and will need to take into account the price evolution for nuclear, renewable energy, grid connectivity and extended grid services”.
Michel Spiro, currently President of the French Physics Society and member of the scientific committee of the Nuclear Safety Authority, outlined the additional cost safety processes which have been added to nuclear operator developments – assessing the costs and benefit helps operators and state actors avoid over-compensation in case of a nuclear incident
Philippe Chalmin, an economist at the Paris-Dauphine University rounded up the debate by advocating the importance of nuclear for energy security and bringing down consumer bills in the long-term. Arguing that the key issues were not the actual cost of development, but political, and geo-political, considerations which compound new developments.
Tim Yeo added: “The nuclear power industry faces both challenges and opportunities, but there is no doubt in my mind that nuclear has a place in the future energy mix of Europe. Nuclear can help to deliver a balanced energy mix for future generations, which provides secure and affordable, low carbon electricity.
“At NNWE we want to ensure that contracts for new nuclear power stations are awarded in a way which delivers the greatest benefit in the fairest manner, to local communities, as well as to consumers and national governments”
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Notes to Editors
- NNWE was founded at the end of 2014 to help ensure nuclear power is recognised as an important and desirable way for European governments to provide affordable, secure, low carbon energy and help to meet the long-term energy needs of their citizens.
- Membership of NNWE is open to all companies, individuals and organisations active in the nuclear industry including those involved in the supply chain. More information is available at www.newnuclearwatch.eu
- Tim Yeo is Chair of New Nuclear Watch Europe and the University of Sheffield Industrial Advisory Board for the Energy 2050 initiative. He is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and was Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee from 2005-2010 and then Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee from 2010-2015.
- The Nuclear Energy Policy Forum, organised by NNWE, aims to shine a spotlight on the critical challenges facing the European nuclear industry.