Response to petition on subsidies for nuclear power

This publication was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Response from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to petition on subsidies for nuclear power.



Thank you for your petition “Subsidies for nuclear power would be illegal under EU law. Propping up an expensive and dangerous industry diverts resources from renewable energy”.

Electricity Market Reform will encourage investment in low carbon electricity generation which is critical to tackling climate change and meeting our legally binding carbon targets.

By supporting all forms of low carbon generation our reforms will diversify our domestic energy supply, helping to improve our energy security and reduce reliance on energy imports. Not only will this will help to keep the lights on, but it will also protect consumers against global spikes in fossil fuel prices.

A new generation of nuclear power stations, alongside other low carbon forms of electricity generation such as renewables and Carbon Capture and Storage, is a key part of our future low carbon energy mix, keeping us on a cost-effective pathway to meet our legally binding carbon targets.

New nuclear will help to diversify our electricity supply and improve our energy security. Nuclear is also cost competitive with other generation technologies and is expected to be one of the cheapest sources of low carbon electricity in the future.

There have been understandable concerns about how the programme for new nuclear power will be paid for, given the expensive mistakes that have been made in the past. The coalition agreement is clear – new nuclear will receive no levy, direct payment or market support for electricity supplied or capacity provided, unless similar support is also made available more widely to other types of generation. This is about creating a level playing field for all forms of generation, not subsidising nuclear.

It will be for private sector energy companies to construct, operate and decommission nuclear power stations. It will be for the Government and the independent regulators to ensure appropriate levels of safety, security and environmental regulation.

The concept of aid as interpreted by the European Commission and EU courts is very wide. It is quite possible to meet the technical tests for State Aid (because we are supporting low carbon generation over high carbon generation) while being in line with our policy on nuclear.

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Edward Davey