2 Oct 2010

Is the UK nuke renaissance teetering on the brink?

The latest issue of the excellent No2Nuclear Power news is out - download here - there first article looks at the challenges facing the nuke industry - all along Greens have argued nukes don't make economic sense - even the Governments own Sustainability Commission concluded that. Why are we still trying to go down that route? It only diverts us from a green revolution in energy that we need.

As another article in the news issue shows we are already subsidising nuclear. But hey locally I have been in touch with Angela Paine, of Stop Oldbury, who attended a recent community event, laid on by Magnox North, at Thornbury castle - it included a buffet and presentation. These are always pretty smart stuff - after all they want to win folk over! Anyway it was announced that Oldbury nuclear power station had applied for a further extension to the life of the power station. Angela commented: "I am deeply concerned that this very old nuclear reactor is probably about to be given yet another reprieve, allowing it to run until 2012. The graphite core of the reactor is seriously eroded and the continued operation of the station is increasingly risky."

Neil Carmichael has still not signed the Early Day Motion (see more here) which calls on teh Government to assess future energy demands - something they never have done! Yet they say we need 10 nukes - even if they were carbon neutral which they are not, all of them will be too late to tackle climate change - we need the action now....but here's that article on nukes....

Last month we reported on the deep-seated fear in the nuclear industry that Britain's current funding plans will not be sufficient to see the first cement poured in the ground. The coalition Government has been keen to stress it will support new nuclear reactors provided they do not require public subsidy. However, the coalition has also agreed to implement a floor price for carbon in the European emissions trading scheme, which British Energy owner, EDF, has long been arguing for. The advantage for EDF is that it will benefit by an estimated £350m a year in windfall profits from its existing plants when the measure is introduced.

German utilities RWE and E.ON, who hope to build new stations at Wylfa and Oldbury, have been frequently reported saying a carbon floor price will not be enough incentive for new construction. A study by KPMG for RWE published just last July said new reactors will not be built if the Government persists with its promise to refuse them taxpayer support - the carbon floor price will not be enough. And in August EDF was reported to have finally agreed with the German utilities saying it no longer believes a carbon floor price will be enough. Centrica, which aims to build the UK‟s first two new stations in partnership with EDF, says the proposed floor price is unlikely to boost investment on its own unless it is set at a pretty high level.
Then, on 15th September, the Energy Secretary gave evidence to the House of Commons Energy and climate Change Committee in which he said almost the complete opposite:

“...in my contact with the industry ... we had some people in the industry saying that the carbon price floor would be enough. We had other people in the industry preferring other options. The contacts that I have had with the industry recently have been quite interesting in that they have converged on the view that the carbon price floor will be enough ...”
No. 22 October 2010

This led to angry responses from E.ON and RWE. E.ON has written Mr Huhne to complain about his remarks, and RWE has also sought „clarification‟ from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Both companies are said to be “livid” about the remarks, because they imply Mr Huhne has rejected calls from the two utilities for a consumer-funded levy to support new reactors, and is backing the carbon floor price instead. RWE and E.ON believe Huhne‟s comments contradict repeated arguments they have put to him since the general election in May. Citigroup, said: “It’s extremely unlikely that any company could invest in new nuclear plants based solely on a carbon floor price.”

The Times argued this row could put E.ON and RWE‟s plans for their joint venture – Horizon Nuclear which plans to build new reactors at Oldbury and Wylfa - in jeopardy. DECC‟s response was just to say that a consultation on a wide range of options to support low carbon generation would be held in November.

Meanwhile, at the Liberal Democrats conference in Liverpool, Paul Spence – the strategy and regulation director for EDF, told a fringe meeting the company needs more assurances from the coalition government before investing in building four new nuclear power stations in the UK. He wants more certainty over national policy statements, the mechanism for paying for waste processing, and a floor price for carbon.

See here Caroline Lucas on Youtube in response to LibDems move towards nuclear and the loss of other principles.

NuClear News No.22 October 2010 is now online, including the following stories:-

1. Is the UK renaissance teetering on the brink?
2. Frightening European Utilities off to China.
3. EPR Reactors - unlicensable, unaffordable and unbuildable.
4. Scientific Problems with Disposal: False Picture Presented by International Nuclear Officials.
5. West Cumbrian Partnership Temporarily Suspended.
6. Scottish Low Carbon Debate goes Nuclear.
7. Scottish Waste Experiment – radical storage policy or guinea pig for graphite?
8. NDA Strategy Consultation – close to zero sometime, maybe, or never?
9. Spreading Low Level Waste Around
10. Nuclear Subsidies Listed



There are 56 nuclear power plants being constructed around the world as I type. I am pleased to consider myself an environmentalist even if I'm definitely not a 'green' and I'm sad that none of those 56 plants are in the UK.

If we are to reduce CO2 in Britain, nuclear can not be ruled out.

Andy said...

So if it is Ok for us is OK for Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and any other country?

There is still no solution for waste, uranium is increasingly more expensive and energy intensive to extract, terrorism...I could go on...we need a mix of renewables and efficiency measures....

Anonymous said...

Nuclear is not CO2 free as Andy alludes to above - hugely energy intensive to build and for the extraction of uranium.


Hello Andy & Anon

Britain is about to lose 12 gigawatts of energy generation before the end of 2016. It would be lovely to squint through rose tinted glasses and see it all being replaced by renewables but it won’t be as long as the nimby elite prevents turbines being built. Wave energy is way behind and solar is the least practicable for mainland UK.

Britain will have to import even more electricity from France and guess how that will be generated?

Andy said...

But it will take 10 years to build a new nuclear plant and look at Finland - massively over cost and years delay.

Anonymous said...

Well done Greenpeace: