HC Deb 15 June 1959 vol 607 cc20-2
36. Mr. Corfield

asked the Paymaster-General what is the cost per unit of electricity generated in the most up-to-date coal-operated power station as compared with the estimated cost of generation in the type of nuclear power station which the Central Electriciy Generaing Board proposes to erect at Oldbury-on-Severn; and to what extent, in view of the large existing stocks of small coal and the estimated effects of modernisation and mechanisation in the coal industry, he anticipates a change in relative costs in favour of coal.

37. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Paymaster-General what report he has received from the Central Electricity Authority concerning the disparity of cost in producing electricity by coal, oil, and nuclear energy.

43 and 45. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster General (1) if he will make available estimated figures showing the comparative costs of producing electric power from the use of coal, oil, and nuclear fissile material under similar base load operating conditions over the next 10-year period;

(2) if he will issue a new White Paper reassessing the development of the British nuclear power programme in the light of the latest trends in primary fuel costs and capital charges of power installations.

Mr. Maudling

The estimated cost of generation in the most up-to-date coal-fired power stations at present being planned ranges from 0.50d. per unit for stations situated near coalfields to 0.65d. per unit for similar stations situated remote from the coalfields. In so far as reliable comparisons are possible, the cost of oil generation would be roughly the same. On the basis of the latest designs of nuclear stations, the estimated generation cost would be between 0.65d. and 0.70d. per unit. Neither the site nor the design of the proposed station at Oldbury has yet been settled.

Despite the recent fall in the capital cost per unit of modern conventional stations and the fact that coal prices may be expected to be more stable than could have been foreseen when the present nuclear programme was announced in 1957, there is reason to hope that the cost of nuclear power will fall below that of conventional power within the next decade.

The position is kept continually under review, but my noble Friend does not consider that re-assessment of the nuclear power programme is called for at the present time.

Mr. Palmer

In giving these figures, has the right hon. Gentleman taken into account the point contained in my Question, which is that similar base load running conditions should be taken for comparison?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. The figures were in every case on the basis of a 75 per cent. base load operation factor.

Mr. Roberts

In view of the large stocks of small coal on hand, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that some direction should be given to reduce the price of small coal to the generating stations, which would then deal with the cost of generating?

Mr. Maudling

That is a matter of commercial policy for the National Coal Board.