9 Nov 2011

Is nuclear power cheaper than renewables?

This is a letter from the Gerry Wolff in response to yet another claim that nuclear power is cheap - this one was in the Sunday Times but I spotted first in Richard Lawson's excellent blog.


Contrary to the often-repeated claim that nuclear power is cheap (“Saving Britain's economy: ditch expensive wind farms”, 6 November), it is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity. It only seems cheap if we make wildly optimistic estimates of the cost of building nuclear plants, or assume that capital costs have been paid off, and if we ignore the enormous subsidies enjoyed by the nuclear industry all around the world.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, says that nuclear power is more expensive than offshore wind power. The Economist has written that "More than half of the subsidies (in real terms) ever lavished on energy by OECD governments have gone to the nuclear industry."

A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that "Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away."

A report by the Insurance Forum, Leipzig, a company specialising in actuarial calculations, shows that, if the nuclear industry was required to insure fully against the cost of accidents, the price of nuclear electricity would rise by a range of values—€ 0.14 per kWh up to € 2.36 per kWh—depending on assumptions made.

Reports by the Energy Fair group show that nuclear power in the UK today benefits from 7 main types of subsidy, and the Government is proposing more.

Around the world, the average annual growth of wind power in the last 5 years has been more than 27% and the annual growth in solar power has been about 30%. In 2010, the worldwide growth of solar power was a whopping 70%. There is now abundant evidence that renewables can provide robust and reliable supplies of power, they are cheaper than nuclear power, and they can be built very much more quickly than nuclear power.

Instead of clinging to a failed technology of the past, we should be grasping the huge opportunities opening up in the clean, green technologies of the future.

Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng, Energy Fair


1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Energy Giant EDF has today been found guilty of spying on Greenpeace.
At 14.00hours French Judge Isabelle Prévost-Desprez pronounced a verdict of guilty in the trial of French state owned energy giant EDF, which was accused of industrial scale espionage against Greenpeace. She sentenced EDF executive Pierre-Paul François to 3 years imprisonment, with 30 month suspended and Pascal Durieux 3 years imprisonment, two years suspended and a 10,000 Euro fine for commissioning the spying operation.
The judge also handed down a guilty verdict in the case of Thierry Lorho, the head of Kargus, the company employed by EDF to hack into the computers of Greenpeace. He has been sentenced to three years in jail, with two suspended and a 4,000 Euro fine.
Additionally, EDF has been fined 1.5 million Euros and ordered to pay half a million Euros in damages to Greenpeace.
Speaking from outside the courtroom in Paris, Greenpeace's Executive Director in France, Adelaide Colin, said:
"The fine against EDF and the damages awarded to Greenpeace send a strong message to the nuclear industry that no one is above the law. This case should send a signal to any country considering building reactors with EDF that the company can't be trusted. Instead of working with the nuclear industry, countries should invest in clean, safe sources of renewable electricity."
During evidence presented to the court by the French prosecutor the judge heard that EDF had been hacking into the hard drives of Greenpeace computers and had placed a 'Trojan Horse' in the hard drive of one computer that enabled the company to access private emails and documents being written by Greenpeace.
It also emerged at the trial that EDF had hired the industrial espionage company Kargus to compile a dossier on the work of Greenpeace UK. This was during the period EDF was attempting to get its foot in the door of the UK nuclear energy market through the purchase of British Energy.
Speaking from alongside the new Rainbow Warrior, currently on its maiden voyage and docked in London Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven said:
"The evidence presented at the trial showed that the espionage undertaken by EDF in its efforts to discredit Greenpeace was both extensive and totally illegal. The company should now give a full account of the spying operation it mounted against its critics. As one of the six companies with a monopoly over electricity supply in this country and a major sponsor of the Olympics, EDF has a duty to come clean. The length of the sentences handed down shows just how seriously the judge views what the French state owned company did."
He continued:
"The verdict comes on the day that thousands of EDF customers in the UK face price hikes averaging over 15% for gas. EDF could demonstrate real regret for its illegal spying operation by using its increased profits to help those in fuel poverty, and by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency."