France is not a model for nuclear success, says IEA energy analyst

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s speech on nuclear energy, Andy Mayer, Energy Analyst at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Johnson’s speech contains no useful solutions. He went ‘large’ on nuclear power and expressed his admiration for France, from whom we are buying four reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell.

“But the French industry is in trouble. Half their aging fleet of 20th century reactors is offline, making France reliant on imported energy from the UK. Their new reactors are over-time, over-budget, corroding, and no one other than the UK wants to buy them. The company responsible, EDF, is bankrupt, being nationalised and suing the French Government. This is not a model to copy.

“British-made small modular reactors may be better, but are untested, and to build only eight of them, even one a year, will merely replace old plants. While Johnson’s plans to electrify heat and transport by 2050 will double or triple demand.

“Johnson has repeatedly failed to understand that by interfering in markets, picking winners and banning losers, he has made the UK’s path to Net Zero more expensive and less secure.

“A return to deregulated markets with competitive and consistent carbon pricing accounting for climate risks would ensure the most efficient technologies are deployed first, and older fossil fuel options replaced only when alternatives are ready. That may or may not include nuclear, but at the risk of investing companies, not the public.

“Johnson could have done many things this summer. He could have lifted the moratorium on fracking, deregulated to enable faster deployment of new supply, and reduced green taxes. He has instead imposed a windfall tax and gone on holiday.”


Notes to editors
Contact: [email protected] / 07763 365520IEA spokespeople are available for interview and further comment.

See attachment for free market thinking on energy policy.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

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