HC Deb 03 November 1980 vol 991 cc940-1
6. Mr. Dobson

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the total capital cost to date of the advanced gas-cooled reactor programme, including money spent on stations not yet in operation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Norman Lamont)

I am advised by the CEGB that the total capital cost to date of its existing advanced gas-cooled reactor programme was £1,100 million at 31 March 1980—this figure aggregates expenditure incurred at historic cost price levels; it excludes the cost of initial nuclear fuel and interest during construction. In addition, £28 million was spent on Heysham II up to March 1980.

Mr. Dobson

Can the Minister explain how he or the CEGB arrived at those figures, when in August 1979 the CEGB told me in answer to a letter that the total cost was £1,349 million?

Mr. Lamont

Perhaps the hon. Member will send me the letter, and I will then attempt to reconcile the figures for him. I cannot comment any further.

Mr. Rost

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that it is right to go ahead with ordering two more AGRs of an unproven reactor system? Should he not wait at least until we have a realistic estimate of the costs, reliability and the length of time the reactors will take to build?

Mr. Lamont

My hon. Friend refers to these reactors as unproven, but of course we have the experience of Hinckley. That experience shows generation costs of 1.35p per kilowatt hour, which compares extremely favourably with electricity produced from the first half of Drax, at 1.52p per kilowatt hour. I assure my hon. Friend that the cost estimates for the AGR have been examined very rigorously, and some of that evidence was placed before the Select Committee.