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Nuclear Reactors

Volume 932: debated on Thursday 26 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the latest official estimate of the total cost of building and operating a commercial size breeder reactor, including all the related fuel cycle and security-safety costs.

In the absence of a final design it is not possible to give a firm estimate of the costs of a full-scale (1300 MW) commercial fast reactor. But at this stage the AEA's view is that the capital cost of the first such reactor might be about £700–£770 million (in 1976 prices), depending on allowances made for contingencies. (This does not take account of the costs of supporting research and development and preconstruction design and project engineering.) The figures might be much higher. They advise that operating costs are difficult to estimate because they will depend very much on:

  • (a) the load factors at which the station is operated, especially during the first few years;
  • (b) whether the fuel is stored until the commissioning of further fast reactors justifies the construction of a reprocessing plant to serve several stations, or whether, to provide an early demonstration of commercial reprocessing, an intermediate scale reprocessing plant is constructed concurrently with CFR 1.
  • In either case, when the station is operated at a load factor of 70 per cent., revenue from sale of electricity will cover all operating costs (including those related to security and safety) and make a contribution towards capital charges.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many Magnox reactors are now generating electricity for the national grid; what is their combined electrical output capacity; and how the price of the electricity thus generated now compares with that generated in the most efficient coal-fired and oil-fired power stations, respectively.

    The CEGB, SSEB (which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland) and BNFL have 26 Magnox reactors at 11 power stations which generate electricity for the national grid.The declared net capability of the generating boards' stations is 3,762 MWSO. The gross capacity of the BNFL stations is 480 MW.In the year 1975–76, the latest period for which complete figures are available, the average generation costs of CEGB power stations commissioned in the previous 12 years were as follows: coal-fired, 0·97p/kWh; oil-fired, 1·09p/kWh; nuclear (Magnox), 0·67p/kWh. These figures include interest and depreciation charges appropriate to 1975–76 and an allowance is made in the nuclear figure for appropriate reprocessing costs.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the latest estimate of the total construction costs of the five advanced gas-cooled reactor power stations now on order; by what date it is now expected that all five will have been completed; and what will be their combined electrical output capacity.

    This information is not immediately available. I shall reply as soon as possible.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement as to the arrangements he proposes for keeping the public informed of incidents affecting safety at nuclear installations.

    , pursuant to the reply [Official Report, 2nd February 1977; Vol. 925, c. 209–10], gave the following further information:The first quarterly report of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive concerning incidents at nuclar installations has been published today. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Further copies are available, free of charge, from the Health and Safety Executive. Further reports will cover incidents at nuclear installations on a quarterly basis.