Chuckling perhaps over the cracks in the Hunterston reactors’ graphite blocks. The publicity given to them, including the crass allusion that they are still hairline when they’re 2.9 mm wide, neatly reinforces the Government’s argument that new nuclear stations are necessary to replace these crumbling fossils.
What about Chancellor Hammond’s Regulated Asset Base (RAB) as a way of financing new nuclear power, slipped adroitly into his Spring budget beside a few superficially green titbits? Dr David Toke tells us “this is a cover for the Government risking very large sums of money to be lent to nuclear power developers. Put simply, if the nuclear power projects are as expensive as they usually are the electricity consumer will lose an awful lot of money and prices will be jerked upwards. Either that or the taxpayer takes a hit and funding of public services suffer big time”.
RAB has been used to try to finance power plants in the USA in the states of Georgia and South Carolina recently. The result was a disaster and the developing company, Westinghouse, went bust. But this was ‘normal’ RAB where the developer takes the risk of cost overruns. In the proposed UK nuclear version it will be the electricity consumer who goes bust when the almost inevitable cost-overruns set in! Moreover EDF Energy is already angling for Sizewell C to be funded by this sort of ‘nuke bailout’ RAB.