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Nuclear Power

Volume 545: debated on Thursday 17 May 2012

New nuclear power will have a vital role to play in our energy mix alongside other low-carbon forms of generation provided it can be delivered in a way that provides value for money for consumers and that is consistent with the coalition Government’s commitment to no public subsidy.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Given the uncertainties about future investment, will he give us again an absolute assurance that if it is to be delivered, there will, as the coalition agreement requires, be no subsidy and no hidden subsidy, either?

I refer the hon. Lady to the statement we made in October 2010 about exactly how we define subsidy and what would be meant by that commitment. We are absolutely clear that this technology must stand on its own feet. The process for taking it forward is designed to ensure that that is the case and it will be very transparent. We recognise that higher costs are associated with low-carbon technologies than with high-carbon technologies, but we remain firmly committed to that statement.

19. May I put on record, Mr Speaker, our admiration of your awesome knowledge of electoral history? Nuclear power is an important source of stable energy in this country and press reports about the ability to continue to have 20% of our power coming from nuclear energy have been worrying. Will the Minister repeat his reassurances that 20% of our energy will continue to come from nuclear power? (107628)

Your knowledge, Mr Speaker, is sometimes not so much awesome as scary and I find that you know more about my electoral history than I do.

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. We believe that the initial role of new plants will be to replace the old plants that are coming out of commission. We do not have a set Government target for delivery, but the industry thinks that it can deliver 16 GW of new nuclear power by 2025. We have identified the eight sites where that will go forward and, taking forward the work of the previous Administration, we have created the most attractive regime anywhere in Europe for new nuclear investment.

20. The Minister has mentioned the target of 16 GW by 2025 that the industry states it can provide, but the industry clearly is not in a position to provide that given recent developments. What work has he undertaken to revise his estimate, particularly in relation to the national planning statements, of the number of gigawatts that will be provided over the coming period through nuclear power? (107629)

I would take the hon. Gentleman to task on this. The two consortia that continue to go forward as planned—the EDF-led one and the one in Cumbria—are looking at 9.7 GW. The Horizon one—I have strong hopes that new investors will come in and take forward that programme—will deliver an additional few gigawatts as well. I firmly believe that, following on from the work of the previous Administration, we have created a very attractive regime for people from around the world to look to be part of the nuclear renaissance in the United Kingdom. We cannot do this without international investment and we recognise that we need to create the right framework for that to come forward.