The European Commission has approved the UK Government’s pricing plan for nuclear waste transfer contracts.
It establishes the price new nuclear plant operators will have to pay for the underground disposal of spent fuel, with the aim of ensuring taxpayers won’t have to pay the costs.
The UK Government intends to build a geological facility to store nuclear waste from existing and new power stations in the country. It is expected to start operating by 2040.
“The Commission’s assessment showed the UK pricing methodology makes sure that operators of new power plants will bear the disposal costs for their spent fuel and intermediate level waste”, it stated.
The price will however only be determined when most of the currently unknown cost factors of the disposal facility are clear – around 30 years after the start of electricity generation by the nuclear plant operator.
“The pricing methodology therefore involves no state aid within the meaning of the EU rules. Until the final price is determined, nuclear power operators will be periodically updated on expected costs and are under an obligation to set aside sufficient funds to cover their future liabilities”, the Commission added.
The Nuclear Industry Association welcomed the news.
Chief Executiv Keith Parker said: “The endorsement of the UK’s responsible plans for ensuring the cost of dealing with and storing waste is paid for by the operator is another clear signal that nuclear power can play a key role in the UK’s energy mix.”
A consultation on working with communities in siting a nuclear waste facility in the UK was launched earlier this year.
Last month Chancellor George Osborne guaranteed £2 billion of initial support for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.