I wrote an open letter to you last July regarding the Hinkley decision, published on Weinberg Next Nuclear’s website http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2016/07/29/open-letter-to-greg-clark-on-hinkley/. As I said in that letter, the government should “highlight and welcome the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s plan to deliver decisions on the Generic Design Assessments for Wylfa and Moorside in 2017”. Now, with Toshiba’s withdrawal making Moorside’s future insecure, the government should step in to ensure that the project continues.
Priority 7 in your Industrial Strategy Green Paper correctly identifies the advantages of nuclear, with “a commitment to develop a strong UK supply chain to support the sector”. This ambition to make the UK a leader in the nuclear sector will be significantly compromised if the pipeline of projects loses Moorside.
UK energy security will also be compromised. With Brexit putting the costs of imports into question, and the decline of North Sea production meaning that the UK will rely increasingly on these imports, becoming more self-sufficient in energy must be a priority. The ageing nuclear power plants will soon be decommissioned, and with the coal phase out by 2025, a gap is imminent. Nuclear power is an essential technology to contributing to filling this gap, providing the UK with secure power that is also low carbon.
Finding other companies to step in and replace Toshiba will be challenging. The UK government should therefore fund the construction of the plant itself. The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank calculates that, for a nuclear construction program of 14.2GW (as recommended by National Grid in 2014 as part of scenarios for meeting UK and European legal targets on low-carbon energy), public provision of capital during the construction phase could save consumers £1.2–1.8 billion between 2015 and 2035, by socialising policy risks and therefore reducing financing costs. If public ownership continued during the operational phase, but private companies ran each nuclear plant, this could produce additional savings for the consumer of £2.5–3.7 billion over the period. (http://www.ippr.org/publications/when-the-levy-breaks-energy-bills-green-levies-and-a-fairer-low-carbon-transition)
Nuclear provides high-skilled jobs across the supply chain, from research to operation, often in old industrial areas. It also supplies low carbon, secure power. Government support for Moorside would help put an industrial strategy into action. Hinkley was an inherited project for the current government: Moorside is an opportunity to finance new nuclear in a more efficient way.