UK Gives Green Light To New Nuclear Plants

10 Jan (NucNet): The British government has given the go-ahead for the possible construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK.

Energy Secretary John Hutton said he is inviting energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power plants.

“Giving the go ahead today that new nuclear power should play a role in providing the UK with clean, secure and affordable energy is in our country’s vital long term interest,” said Mr Hutton, who announced the decision in parliament.

In a White Paper (policy document) on nuclear energy published to coincide with the announcement, the government says new nuclear power plants should have a role to play in the UK’s future energy mix alongside other low carbon sources.

The White Paper says energy companies should be allowed the option of investing in new nuclear power plants, and the government should take “active steps” to facilitate this.

Those steps include carrying out a strategic siting assessment and simplifying the planning process for new nuclear build.

The government also said it would bring forward legislation to ensure that the framework for funding decommissioning and waste management liabilities is clear and properly ensures that each nuclear operator meets its costs.

Proposed new energy legislation also published today contains clauses to ensure adequate funding provision is made by potential developers of new nuclear units for the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs.

In the White Paper, prime minister Gordon Brown says nuclear is a “tried and trusted technology” and “more than ever before has a key role to play”.

In May 2007 the government launched a consultation to examine nuclear energy. Today’s White Paper is a response to that consultation.

The White Paper and other documents related to today’s announcement can be downloaded from the government’s nuclear energy website (

Davos Report Proposes ‘Nuclear Fuel Insurance Fund’

24 Jan (NucNet): Proposals for financial markets to support an international ‘nuclear fuel insurance fund’, which would guarantee supplies and discourage the spread of enrichment facilities, are included in a new report to the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting* in Davos, Switzerland.

The report, ‘Global Risks 2008’, says that as “a non-carbon-based energy source… nuclear technology has a number of attractions in an era of uncertainty”.

However, the report warns that some countries considering domestic nuclear energy programmes “fear that they could be blocked in the future by the six states which currently produce enriched uranium on a commercial basis: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK and the US”.

This could encourage more states to build enrichment facilities, a move which would “shatter” the international structures governing nuclear technologies and lead to increased risks of proliferation.

The report says an innovative concept known as ‘insure to assure’ has been proposed by a joint team from the Wharton Business School and Harvard’s Kennedy School. The proposed solution – complementary to the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others – would create a partnership between financial industries and governments to create the world’s first international nuclear fuel insurance fund.

Premiums collected from member countries would be deposited in a mutual insurance company (MIC), which would use some of the money to build a cash reserve and to purchase supply options. Residual funds would go to a consortium of insurers and re-insurers that would provide layered financial protection to all participating countries.

“IAEA member governments would serve as a financial backstop for the consortium. In the event of a fuel disruption, the MIC would exercise its options and work with fuel suppliers, energy producers and transporters to arrange timely fuel delivery or alternative electricity purchases off the energy grid (if available),” the report says. The insurance consortium would compensate member countries and others involved in replacing fuel for any loss of efficiency as contractually agreed.

According to the report, a number of “stakeholders” are now studying the proposals which would “bring together two worlds that rarely talk to one another: the worlds of international security and international finance”.

EU’s Solana Backs ‘World Nuclear Fuel Bank’ Proposals

31 Jan (NucNet): The EU’s foreign policy chief has reiterated calls for an international nuclear fuel bank to discourage countries from building their own enrichment facilities.

Javier Solana, the EU’s high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, told members of the European Parliament yesterday: “We need to find ways of reassuring countries that they can get nuclear fuel without developing their own enrichment capacities.”

Mr Solana’s comments came as the European Parliament debated nuclear activities in Iran. Politically, he said Iran had “elements of democracy that are not visible in other Middle East countries”. While this was an imperfect democracy, it was better than nothing, therefore “we should engage with its parliamentarians".

“None of us have a problem with an Iranian civil programme, in fact, we are offering to help… but we need to ensure that their intentions are purely peaceful,” he added.

Mr Solana called for an international enrichment centre to be established when he addressed a conference in Madrid last year. He is among a number of world leaders and top diplomats who have expressed interest in the idea.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei, has proposed multilateral management and control of the nuclear fuel cycle, with the IAEA acting as facilitator and guarantor of a fuel bank.


Home l Top l Disclaimer l Copyright l Webmaster