UK Report highlights subsidies for nuclear and renewables

A new report commissioned by a Westminster committee has found that the nuclear industry already receives a subsidy of around £2.3bn ($3bn) a year and is set for more public support under the British government’s plans to offer guaranteed prices for low-carbon power.

The research was commissioned by the environmental audit committee of MPs.

The report’s publication comes as the committee launches an inquiry on Wednesday into subsidies for the wider energy industry.
Meanwhile analysis by Oxford Energy Associates, a consultancy, estimates government aid for other renewables is even higher than it is for nuclear –  at more than £3bn ($3.9bn) a year. The bulk of the support is provided under the Renewable Obligation scheme, which requires suppliers to provide a certain proportion of their electricity from approved renewable sources.

Opponents of new nuclear have said that the proposed “contract for difference” being offered to France’s EDF – which guarantees a long-term fixed price for low-carbon generators – constitutes public support.

Joan Walley, a Labour MP and chair of the audit committee said, “The government has said that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear plants, but this research shows that the fixed-price contracts ministers are offering to EDF and other companies could represent a public subsidy.

“There may be a case for subsidies, but the government should come clean and admit it, if that is what is needed to keep the lights on and reduce carbon emissions,” she added.

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