The UK Government is being urged to check the possibility of extending the lives of power stations after warnings closing seven sites by 2028 will “significantly reduce” output with no immediate replacement except relying on imports.
Scotland currently has only one nuclear power station, the Torness plant in East Lothian, after the Hunterston B site in North Ayrshire closed in January.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said decommissioning dates of power stations were clear decades ago.
It said in a report that the terms of the 2009 sale of seven nuclear power stations to EDF Energy “placed a disproportionate amount of risk for meeting future decommissioning costs on the taxpayer.”
Last year, EDF Energy announced the closure of two of its nuclear power stations, including its East Lothian site, two years earlier than expected.
The PAC said the UK Government and EDF should “double-check” whether it would be possible to extend the lives of the remaining operating power stations.
No new nuclear power stations will be built in Scotland as part of the UK Government’s plans for energy independence, the business secretary said in April.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, deputy chairman of the PAC, said: “Our current generation of nuclear power plants are reaching end-of-life and there is huge uncertainty over the risks and timescales of decommissioning and commissioning this energy infrastructure.
“But we are seeing clearly the near-term risks of having to import energy. Government must prioritise the deliverable, safe and efficient plan to decommission these facilities and sustainably replace energy production that we owe to future generations, to alleviate the impact of rising energy costs on the public and business and insulate the UK from disruptions to our energy supply.
“The decommissioning dates of these power stations were clear decades ago. The Government should have been commissioning this replacement at that time, so that by now they would be generating base load power into the grid. For these major projects with long lead times, effective forward planning by Government is essential.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The current nuclear stations have been the most productive clean energy assets in British history, saving carbon worth £115bn at today’s prices.
“We now need to move forward urgently with new nuclear capacity to replace the retiring stations, cut gas imports and cut consumer bills.”