Jan 07 2008
Decoding Nuclear Nonsense II: the real evidence
By Tom Burke
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This week the UK Government will announce its plans for the future of the Nuclear power industry.
In this new reader’s guide, Tom Burke highlights the 5 key claims being made in support of the Government’s position, and sets out the real economic, political and environmental evidence against each one. A pdf version is attached for download.
Decoding Nuclear Nonsense II
A reader’s guide to the Government’s announcement on the future of nuclear power in Britain.
The Government’s case for new nuclear build in Britain rests on two key propositions: that it is essential to maintain Britain’s energy security and that without it Britain cannot meet its climate change emissions. Neither proposition is valid. Nuclear power can do nothing to improve Britain’s energy security or help it meet the urgent challenge of climate change.
even if an order were placed today there would be no new nuclear electricity before 2020;
the capital cost of nuclear power has tripled in the past three years to $6,000/Kw;
the world’s nuclear capacity increased by 2GW in 2007 compared to some 15GW for wind power alone;
in the next three years, Britain will spend £2.8 billion/year on cleaning up the nuclear legacy of the past and nothing on deploying carbon capture and storage
“The Government is making a ‘difficult long term decision’ to go ahead with nuclear power.”
It is doing no such thing. Nothing has prevented, or now prevents, anyone who wished to build a nuclear power station in Britain from doing so. They have not been built because Britain’s privately owned utilities have assessed them as uneconomic.
The Government is simply announcing, to no-one’s surprise, that it is in favour of new nuclear power stations in Britain. It is also announcing again that it will help potential investors in new nuclear power stations by reducing planning and regulatory constraints.
In due course, Britain’s French- and German-owned utilities will have to make a tough decision about whether to order a capital intensive nuclear power station in the face of highly uncertain electricity and carbon prices. The Government has consistently announced that it will provide no public subsidies to nuclear developers. Many people expect that it will try to find some way to work around this commitment in order to guarantee revenues to the nuclear builders.