In contrast, the cost of building a new reactor is at least £8 billion ($12.5 billion), which is why EDF is unwilling to start on new ones until the Government comes up with a guaranteed minimum price for the electricity. The price EDF is asking for would be double what consumers are currently paying.
Tariff vs. subsidy
One problem the Government faces is that it was elected on the promise that it would not subsidize nuclear power. Various attempts to call a guaranteed price "a low carbon electricity tariff," rather than a subsidy, have not satisfied critics. This is also complicated because the European Union is also against subsidies, because they distort competition.
Despite this hurdle, EDF still plans to build new nuclear stations in Somerset and in Suffolk, England, although the decision to go ahead has been postponed several times. The expected completion date of the first new station has been put back from 2018 to 2022, and even that is considered to be optimistic.
There is at least one other nuclear player in the market waiting to see how the negotiations go between EDF and the British Government: The Japanese electronics giant Hitachi.
It plans to build new plants at other sites at Wylfa on the isle of Anglesey, Wales, and at Oldbury, in Gloucestershire, England. These proposals have also been welcomed by the Government, but again no details of how much Hitachi will get for the electricity have been agreed.
Whatever happens, the Government spokeswoman said, it is still committed to its policy of new nuclear build to keep the lights on and ensure security of supply.
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.