13 Nov 2014

Hinkley C and the BBC

Powerful letter from Dr Ian Fairlie, independent nuclear consultant (http://www.ianfairlie.org/about-ian-fairlie/) to the BBC - shared by Angela Paine, a leading campaigner to stop a new nuclear power station being built on the Somerset coast (http://stophinkley.org/) and local green activist:
Your programme on Hinkley C (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04n67xn) was perhaps one of the worst-informed, biased and misleading I've heard in a long time.
Have you no independent researchers who could dig a little deeper on this contentious matter?
Why no discussion of the truly extraordinary construction costs - £24.5 billion - and rising? This is more than double the cost of the 2012 UK Olympic Games...for one power station. And the mindboggling price support subsidies, estimated at another £35 billion over the life of the station assuming it is ever built? These have been severely criticised - even by Conservative politicians and bankers.
And the fact that the EPRs [nuclear reactors] under construction in Finland and France are in serious legal, technical, and financial difficulties? Both projects being years behind schedule and £billions over budget?
And the fact that the EPR is an experimental design and may not even work in practice, given its over-reliance on myriads of untested computer programs?
You and your colleagues may say that nuclear is low carbon, but this is naive: of all the methods of generating  low carbon electricity, nuclear is the least economic, by some margin.
For heaven's sake, where was the balance in your programme?
Yours in anger
Sadly, another thing to be cross with the BBC about! If you heard this R4 'You & Yours' programme last week, please consider joining Ian in contacting them with your thoughts / complaints...


Guy Gadois said...

The Strike Price for electricity is available for all non-Carbon resources.
For projects with a potential deployment capacity of more than 1 GW, the government plans to pay £155/MWh for offshore wind in 2014, falling to £135/MWh in 2019; Onshore wind will get £100 from 2014, dropping to £95 in 2019, while large solar PV will receive £125 in 2014 and get £110 in 2019.

Hydro and biomass conversion will get the same amount for the 2014-2019 period: £95 and £105 respectively.

Nuclear got a bad deal. Realistically, with Germans now paying 29c/kWh= £230/mWh. It's highly likely that the market price will be much higher than £92.50.

I don't think any reasonable minded person could describe Ian Fairlie as independent.

Over 150 well-credentialed university based scientists produced the Chernobyl Forum report. The European Greens didn't like the report and wanted another. But the fact is it's really, really difficult to get a real scientist who will guarantee to give you the answer you want.

Ian Fairlie was available to write something that not a single university-based physicist would.

Anonymous said...

Guy - try this: http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/if-hinkley-c-is-cheaper-than-wind-power.html

Guy Gadois said...

I'm always careful to avoid websites that seem to have a particular political agenda. Anyone can justify anything by cherry-picking. If David Toke has evidence that the strike price for wind is less than £92.50, I'd like to see the evidence. Any arbitrary number should be treated with great suspicion. If the number is accurate, why did Toke not include a link to the source?
It took me about 2 minutes to find the UK government data:-
: Draft strike prices for renewable technologies
Technology (£/MWh 2012 prices)
2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Onshore Wind 100 100 100 95 95
Offshore Wind 155 155 150 140 135
Tidal 305 305 305 305 305
Wave 305 305 305 305 305
Biomass Conversion
105 105 105 105 105
Solar Large 125 125 120 115 110
The UK government is doing what I would do, guarantee the price for all non-carbon energy. It might be more transparent to give them all the same price though.
Christine Milne (Green's leader - Australia) has just an hour or so ago asked Tony Abbott, even if he doesn't believe in climate change, to give the planet the benefit of the doubt.
I agree totally, but I think Senator Milne needs to also to give the planet the benefit of the doubt.
Even if Milne doesn't agree with Caldeira et al, to give the planet the benefit of the doubt when they say "There is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power"

Anonymous said...


Dr GM said...

No one has died as the result of Fukushima. Not a single one. Fukushima. Fukushima released about 500 Petabecquerels into the environment, 1/30000 of the natural radiation in the ocean, and 1/300000000 of the natural radiation in the crust.

BUT THAT'S NOT THE ARGUMENT IS ABOUT. The complaint is that is utterly misleading to complain that Hinkley has been guaranteed £92.50/MWh and imply that this is a special case. It's not a special case, all non-carbon has received the same, and all of them got more than nuclear. I am very sceptical that the problem of CO2 can be fixed by renewables alone and that it's inevitable that the choice will need to be made between Carbon and Uranium.

If the case against nuclear is so compelling, please comment about the following misleading cherry-picking headlines: -
1. Claim: Hinkley receives £92.5/MWh.
MISLEADING: Other non-Carbon receives the same or more.
2. Claim: "Therefore, huge quantities of the radioisotope (96%U238 & 4% U235) will continue to menace the marine environment and humans for millions of generations to come.
PROFOUNDLY MISLEADING: The Kursk contained LESS Uranium than One cubic kilometre of natural seawater. (About 1/4 billionth of the Uranium already in the ocean)
3. Claim: Renewable Energy = 68% of New Electricity Capacity In September.

LIES, DAMN LIES & STATISTICS: The figure has been taken completely out of context. The document whence it came http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/sep-infrastructure.pdf
actually gives a cumulative Jan-Sep figure which averages 18%
4. Claim: 5 Billion Bq of Strontium-90 flows to the sea every single day.
DOESN'T ANYONE HAVE THE COMMON SENSE TO ASK HOW MUCH RADIOACTIVITY IS THAT? http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/08/5-billion-bq-strontium-90-flows-sea-every-single-day/
Sydney Harbour (Half km3) has a natural radioactivity of 25 trillion becquerels. AND the Amazon released 1 billion Bq into the Atlantic Ocean EVERY SECOND (ie 17280 x the Fukushima claim)
5 Billion Becquerels is a microscopic drop in the ocean.

Guy Gadois said...

HA HA HA. Neither Dr GM or I have said whether we are pro- or anti-nuclear. If the figures quoted are correct, then I do draw the conclusion that the worst case radioactivity releases from any nuclear event are sufficiently small as to cause no substantial environmental problem.
If you don't agree with my conclusion, then either the facts are wrong, or the conclusion not warranted from the facts.

If there's an error in the following analysis please identify it.
1. The total radiation release from Fukushima is 520 PBq - This is the wikipedia figure.
The total radiation in the ocean is 15500 Eqb. [http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/natural.htm]
Ergo, the natural radiation in the ocean is 30000x Fukushima.
The conclusion I draw from this is that within a few km of Fukushima, the total radioactivity will be +1% on background or less, and it is impossible for sufficient radiation to arrive in say, California (or Hokkaido for that matter), to cause a measurable environmental problem.
Get all the facts you can, lay them all out and allow the viewer to draw their own conclusion.
If you dispute my calculation that natural oceanic radiation is 30000x Fukushima, please say on what basis and offer an alternative figure.
If you accept my calculation but draw a different conclusion as to the potential remote effects of 520 Ebq, please say why you think this, and offer a link to show that different sources of radiation have markedly different potential for harm.
The best thing is to give the average reader the facts, and allow them to draw their own conclusion.
If wind was 68% in September, and you knew nothing else, then the conclusion that wind is going gangbusters is plausible, but the first thing you should do is check other sources. The source document of the 68% claim [ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/sep-infrastructure.pdf] which by itself gives a Jan-Sept figure of 18% (and by calculation a Jan-Aug figure of 14%) is sufficient to discredit the notion that wind is the wonder of the future, in my opinion, but everyone should be given ALL of the facts and allowed to draw their own conclusion.

Philip Booth said...

Hey this is only a small part of the subsidy that nuclear will receive - decommissioning, etc will cost tax payers.

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt in my mind that the GP needs to review its energy policies. Firstly we should not be anti-research. Secondly we need to assess the risk associated with not making use of nuclear. The risk that we will at some point be unable to meet demand, regardless of the extent to which we are able to reduce it by positive measures, or meet it from renewables, is substantial. If demand continue to be met from fossil fuels rather than nuclear, the risk of accelerated climate change and its effects, may be greater than the risks from nuclear.

Philip Booth said...

Thanks anonymous - the Green Party did fully review energy policies in the light of new info at their recent conference - however the party overwhelmingly voted to continue to reject nuclear. This was not anti-research - indeed much evidence was brought forward for both sides of the argument - in my view the case for nuclear cannot be made if all factors are taken into account incl the risks re demand - indeed how can we preach to countries like Iran and others that nuclear is not for them but we need it. Morally, environmentally and economically the nuclear case does not stack up.

Anonymous said...

I dont think Western Powers are saying nuclear is not for you to Iran. What they are saying is they want to ensure that the way they go about it does not facilitate nuke weapon production.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the last comment they would love to stop any nuclear programme....and what about every other country....as Philip Booth says above. Also no one has said how nuclear is getting more expensive and renewables cheaper....and what of news re nuclear? It seems every week we get another story...here's two:
- The first VVER-1000 reactor at the koodankulam Nuclear Power Project in India under ommissioning tests has been lying idle since 26 September 2014 due to problems of turbo-generator
- The project at Olkiluoto, in the Baltic Sea, was begun in 2005 with an expected start-up date of 2009. However, Areva and its partner in the project, Siemens, are mired in a multibillion-dollar legal battle over cost overruns and construction delays with the Finnish utility TVO, which commissioned the reactor. The current schedule shows 2018 as the soonest the plant could begin operating, but even that is in doubt.