Letter: Long-term future of nuclear power

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Privatising the nuclear industry' (29 December) contrasts uneasily with your news item on page one covering the forthcoming nuclear review. The dilemma facing the Government is complex. Taking the long term in particular, the strategic need for maintaining the nuclear contribution is clear - gas and oil reserves are finite and tend to be concentrated in regions of the world which are politically unstable. However, you point to decommissioning as a problem area for the nuclear industry.

For the sake of taxpayers, you say that a privatised nuclear industry should have to obey strict rules regarding the financial provision for decommissioning new plants. The good news is that the new generation of pressurised water reactors, such as Sizewell B and the planned Sizewell C, are relatively cheap to decommission.

It will cost less than pounds 300m to decommission the Sizewell nuclear plant. Over its lifetime, it will generate about 300 billion units of electricity worth pounds 10bn at the wholesale market value. Therefore, the real cost of decommissioning will be 3 per cent of the electricity produced. However, when adjustment is made for discounting, the cost of decommissioning falls to 1 per cent of the value of electricity produced - or 0.03p/kWh.

The challenge facing the Government is to balance the City's perspective with the country's national economic and strategic need.

Yours faithfully,

ROGER HAYES

Director-General

British Nuclear Industry Forum

London, SW1

29 December

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