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Electricity Supply: Power Station Building Programme

Volume 490: debated on Thursday 19 November 1987

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Central Electricity Generating Board will either own or operate the six new pressurised water reactor power stations which the Secretary of State for Energy announced on 3rd November will be needed to meet increasing demand by the end of the century?

Security of electricity supply is one of the Government's major strategic objectives. The nuclear programme ensures diversity in electricity generation and so makes a substantial contribution to that security. This is one of the major reasons why the Government are committed to a nuclear programme and will remain so. Proposals for the structure of the industry after privatisation and the means for ensuring a continuing role for the nuclear programme are being developed; decisions have not yet been taken.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How they reconcile their refusal on 22nd February 1984 to endorse anxieties expressed in debate about the ageing element in the Central Electricity Generating Board's generating capacity (cols. 828–9) and the possibility of blackouts with their admission on 3rd November 1987 that "a failure of supply is a fundamental threat" (HC debates, col. 806)?

It was true to say in 1984 that for the next few years the CEGB would have surplus capacity. That surplus is now being reduced by the retirement of generating plant and growth in electricity demand. Since the close of the Sizewell Inquiry in March 1985 the CEGB has revised its estimates of future generating requirements, and now foresees a need for an additional 13 Gigawatts of capacity by the year 2000. It plans to meet this need by building 6 PWRs (including Sizewell) and 4 large coal-fired power stations.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will identify the eight-year period referred to by the Secretary of State for Energy during which no new power station was ordered?

The eight-year period in question was between 1979, when investment approval was granted to the CEGB for an Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR) at Heysham 2, and 1987, when Section 2 consent and investment approval was granted to the CEGB for a Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) at Sizewell B.