Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From City AM (can't find it online):

At a time when the newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is advancing the idea of renationalising the British power sector, the chancellor's response of selling key future energy infrastructure to foreign state-owned enterprises, while denouncing Labour's plan seems inconsistent.

The latest deal with the Chinese also appears to fly in the face of economic logic, when costs for many alternative generation assets have been falling and the recent track record for nuclear plants seems to be going the other way.

Fred Dahlmann, Warwick Business School.

I'd be interested to know what he means by "alternative generation assets", but hey, his first point stands.

See also George Monbiot, who appears to have somehow come to the right conclusion on the topic.


Lola said...

Well, selling stuff off to 'foreign state-owned companies' is at least an 'export'. It also make the owners an hostage to the domestic reg-yew-lay-tors.

Ben Jamin' said...

Selling off assets to foreigners while denouncing nationalisation seems very consistent to me.

The ridiculous hysteria due to Fukishima has tripled the overnight costs of building PWR/BWR reactors. Now they have to be able to withstand being hit by an airliner.

The Chinese are heavily investing in 21st Century nuclear technology, PWRs being 1960s, that will not only be cheaper than coal but walk away safe.

We will be buying all our power stations from them in the future.

Nuclear is already the safest form of power generation. A coal power station spews out many times more radiation, let alone the particulates and NOX.

Regarding Hinkley, we have to remember that you cannot compare today's low gas prices with how much power is going to cost in 20 years time.

Better maybe we'd gone for the Westinghouse AP1000 there too, but due to the indecisiveness of previous administrations we are now at a rock and a hard place. We need reliable baseload power, and as our old nuclear fleet retires we now have very few options left.

As for the wind/solar dream, the Germans have shown that to be a rather costly aspiration.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, that's the only upside I can see.

BJ, I was not discussing relative merits of nuclear power (in all its variants) with other forms of power generation. In pure economic terms, some kinds of nuclear power have a lot going for them, putting environmental issues to one side.

It is a general point about UK governments selling off UK state-owned assets to foreign state-owned companies, this goes for water, electricity, railways, social housing or anything else. This makes no sense - except for the investment bankers who get fat commissions and mates of the government who get stuff cheap.

Unless we then change the rules and renationalise them by stealth (with taxation, price caps etc), having first banked the foreigners' money.

Ben Jamin' said...

@ MW

I agree. The point I was making that it was consistent with Tory policy ie fail.

Great shame we privatised BNFL, they owned Westinghouse (sold to Toshiba), who seem to be doing an ok job (compared to EDF) of building these things in the US and China.

They are going to be building them up in Sellafield.

Thanks to previous Governments we are between a rock and a hard place. Not sure Osbourn could do anything differently. At least he has also announced some funding to partner with the Chinese on R&D on nuclear technology.

What we definitely do not want to do is follow the Germans on their disastrous Energiewende.