Brits Unknowingly Subsidising Nuclear Submarines Through Energy Bills - Report
19:36 05.06.2019(updated 19:38 05.06.2019)
If confirmed, the research is likely to raise alarm among many, and may serve to bolster calls for alternatives to nuclear power, such as wind turbines, which according to the same researchers, may be available at nearly half the cost.
UK homeowners are paying higher energy bills in part because they are unknowingly subsidising the country's fleet of nuclear submarines, a groups of researchers have reportedly told MPs.
The researchers from the University of Sussex in England provided evidence to the UK parliamentary Business Select Committee which allegedly revealed that approximately seven percent of household bills across Britain could be finding their way into the country's nuclear defence pot.
Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone are reported to have quoted National Audit Office statistics which indicate additional costs to consumers could be as high as tens of billions of pounds. The two academics are said to have argued that the UK government needs to be more open about any connections between the civilian and military dimensions of the nuclear energy industry.
Professor Stirling reportedly made the controversial argument that a big reason the UK government is so committed to the maintenance of a strong civilian nuclear power industry – despite the huge financial cost and the existence of cheaper renewable alternatives – is because it provides the "supply chain" and "skills base" that is needed by firms such as Rolls Royce who produce the UK's fleet of Trident nuclear submarines.
"It is clear that the costs of maintaining nuclear submarine capabilities are insupportable without parallel consumer-funded civil nuclear infrastructures," Mr Stirling is reported by the BBC as having said.
"The accelerating competitiveness of renewable energy and declining viability of nuclear power are making this continuing dependency increasingly difficult to conceal," he added.
According to reports, the UK government has so far refused to issue a public comment on the issue. However, the select committee is due to release the evidence that was gathered by the professors within the next few days.
Despite British MPs' reticence toward discussing the overlap between the civilian and military dimensions of the UK's nuclear industry, Professor Stirling reportedly pointed out that the issue is discussed openly in other countries, such as the US.
Mr Stirling's research team specifically highlighted an example from 2017, when the former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said publicly: "A strong domestic [nuclear] supply chain is needed to provide for Navy requirements. This has a very strong overlap with commercial nuclear energy."
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