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The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has raised its estimate f ...

The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has raised its estimate for the total cost of cleaning up the existing civilian nuclear power plant sites in the UK to £70bn, up from £55bn in 2005. ‘This dramatic rise is cause for concern and attention should be given to the reasons around how this has occurred as it is a damaging trend if sustained into the future,’ comments market analyst Datamonitor. ‘It also calls into question the robustness of these estimates. However, the overall magnitude of the cost that this implies for delivered nuclear power is still in line with other forms of energy subsidised by the government.’ From 1960 through until 2035, the current expected lifetime of the UK’s nuclear fleet, a little over 3,000 TWh of power is likely to be produced, which includes the first series of planned life extensions. This would imply a clean-up cost of 2.9p/kWh, which is reduced to 1.4p/kWh when a discount rate of 2.2% is applied to these costs to reflect the substantial time frame over which this money will be spent. By comparison, this is less than the incentive currently provided by the Renewable Obligation scheme, which currently returns operators around 4.5p/kWh. ‘The total costs of either renewable power or nuclear power are not encapsulated in these figures alone as the build cost, output load factor, useful life and operating costs will provide the key determinants of the competitiveness of the different technologies available,’ notes Datamonitor. ‘Nuclear power plays a key role in the current UK generating mix for its steady, controllable baseload power that generators like renewables are simply not able to provide. In addition, if new plants are built on old power plant sites, the existing transmission infrastructure can be utilised and the operating expertise of power plant operators maintained.’ ‘The UK needs a balanced portfolio of generation assets for the future, which will hopefully be provided by the recommendations of the current Energy Review which should be out in the first half of this year. To discount nuclear purely on the basis of its clean-up costs alone is premature.’

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