Matthew Sinclair, as chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance apears to be suffering from a form of cognitive dissonance ("TheWasteful State is still burning our money," Opinion, 15 June), in pressing his argument that renewable energy technologies receive unreasonable "enormous"subsidies, but ignoring the massive subsidies already received, and currently being sought, by private sector nuclear companies.
In written evidence (http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/energy-subsidies-in-the-uk/) presented to the House of Commons' Environmental Audit Committee last month by the Energy Fair Group, of which I am a member, we pointed out that for many years, nuclear power in the UK has been benefitting from seven main kinds of subsidy, several of which are "substantial." We calculate withdrawal of just one of those subsidies would raise the price of nuclear power to at least £200 per MWh, for example much more than the unsubsidised cost of offshore wind power (about £140 per MWh).
In addition, the Finance Act 2011 introduced a subsidy for nuclear power by exempting uranium from a tax on fuels used for the generation of electricity.
Three other subsidies have been proposed in the currfent Energy Bill, most notably the “contracts for difference”, as applied to nuclear power. Currently, it seems the applicant company, to build the UK's first new nuclear power plant the French -State owned EDF Energy, would get around £1billion/year in subsidies if the fixed future price is anywhere near what EDF is trying to secure from the Treasury.
In earlier communication I have had with Mr Sinclair on this matter, he seems to be an apologist for nuclear, not applying the same standards to judge vast nuclear subsidies from the taxpayer with those given to renewable generators.
He especially seems determinied to minimise the subsidy benefit accrued to nuclear operators from being grossly underinsured against liabilities from nuclear accidents. At present nuclear operators would have to pay a maximun of £1.3billion compensation after an accident: by comparison, the Chernobyl accident in 1986 has already cost over £200 billion, and the Fukushima accident two years ago in Japan is expected to cost even more.
In a conference of nuclear regulators on "Nuclear Safety in Europe" which I attended last week in Brussels, Dr Peter Faross, deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission made it clear the Commission, which released its new revised directive on nuclear safety on Thursday, regards the differential liability on nuclear operators across the EU gives a competition benefit to those with low liabilities - such a in the UK - and the situation is going to be harmonised, with the lower payers having to increase their insurance liabilities, which Brussels rightly conisiders an unfair subsidy currently covered by national taxpayers. instead of nuclear plant owners.