A new report by economics consultancy Oxera suggests that building a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK would be a far cheaper way of meeting greenhouse emissions targets than expanding renewable energy.

According to the analysis, a new nuclear programme would cost UK taxpayers more than £4 billion (€5.8 billion). This stands against an expansion of renewable energy which will cost £12 billion (€17.4 billion) more in net present value terms than relying on conventional fossil-fuelled generation.

For a new nuclear power programme £4.4 billion (€6.4 billion) of taxpayer’s money, comprising £1.1 billion (€1.6 billion) of direct public capital and the provision of publicly-backed debt guarantees worth about £3.3 billion (€4.8 billion), would be required. The figure does not include the cost of public liability insurance.

The UK has set a target of a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 but the Oxera study indicates that by 2025 the UK is likely to be some 40 – 60% short without a much bigger shift away from fossil fuels.

Robin Smale, Oxera’s managing consultant says “At the moment, the two options available are increasing the amount of nuclear-generated energy or increasing renewables at the taxpayer”s expense.”