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Competitive energy markets and nuclear power: Can we have both, do we want either?


  • Thomas, Steve


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 The nuclear plants were withdrawn from the sale and plans to build new plants were abandoned, but privatisation proceeded.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.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas, Steve, 2010. "Competitive energy markets and nuclear power: Can we have both, do we want either?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 4903-4908, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:9:p:4903-4908

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas, Steve, 2006. "The British Model in Britain: Failing slowly," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 583-600, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mari, Carlo, 2014. "Hedging electricity price volatility using nuclear power," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 615-621.
    2. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages 119-125.


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