In 1987, the UK Conservative Party was re-elected promising to transform the electricity industry into a privatised competitive industry and to promote an expansion of nuclear power. Fulfilling both objectives was not possible. The nuclear plants were withdrawn from the sale and plans to build new plants were abandoned, but privatisation proceeded. In 2007, the Labour government began a new attempt to build nuclear plants to operate in the competitive electricity market, promising that no subsidies would be offered to them. By 2010, the utilities that were planning to build nuclear plants were beginning to suggest that ‘support’ in some form would be needed if they were to build new plants. More surprisingly, the energy regulator, Ofgem, cast doubt on whether a competitive wholesale electricity market would provide security of supply. In 1990, the UK government opted for a competitive electricity market over expanding nuclear power. Now, the option of opting for a competitive electricity market may not exist. However, this might not leave the way open for new nuclear plants. The expected cost of power from new nuclear plants is now so high that no more than one or two heavily subsidised plants will be built.
Keywords: Nuclear power; Competitive electricity markets; Ofgem』
2. Why might liberalisation and nuclear power be incompatible?
3. The failure to privatise nuclear power in 1990
4. The revival of nuclear power's fortunes
5. Progress with introducing competitive energy markets
6. Is nuclear power economically feasible in a competitive market?
6.1. Construction cost
6.2. Cost of borrowing
6.3. Overall economics
6.4. Can we have competitive markets and nuclear power, do we want either?