Monday, August 09, 2010

Why new nuclear power stations have become inevitable

Liberal Democrat Voice is running a poll on whether nuclear power should be part of the UK's energy mix. This is in the light of Chris Huhne's recent declaration that the government is fully behind the opening of a new nuclear power station in eight years’ time.

I used to cycle the lanes of Leicestershire in a "Nuclear Power? No Thanks" T-shirt, but I think such an announcement has been inevitable for some time now. Ever since, in fact, the environmental movement embraced the concept of man-made global warming with such enthusiasm. Whatever the science says, you have to admit this has been a remarkably convenient truth for them.

If you rule out new coal-fired power stations - whatever happened to the fluidised-bed technology we were all so keen on in the 1980s, incidentally? - then it is inevitable that the looming energy gap will be filled in part by new nuclear stations.

Chris's decision to lift the ban on local authorities selling energy generated from green sources to the National Grid is to be welcomed unreservedly, but it is hard to see these technologies filling this gap on their own.

In truth, the economic arguments against nuclear power were always stronger than the safety ones. So I am reassured that Chris appears still to be ruling out any public subsidy for the industry.

It is remarkable that the two industries that can be most sure of high and constant demand - agriculture and energy - are also the industries most heavily subsidised by government. Surely they are the ones that should need subsidy least?


william said...

farm subsidies were 5 billion euros in the uk in 2008(source industry is profitable.twenty years of that money would pay for a lot of nuclear decommissioning

JohnM said...

I just worry that once we say Nuclear OK, we stop the more sensible (and cheaper) alternative of reducing demand.

Frank Little said...

Wasn't "fluidised bed" technology devised by the NCB's research arm, sold off by Thatcher? Now in Scandinavian hands, I believe.

Herbert Eppel said...

New nuclear power stations are far from inevitable and have no role in an enlightened energy policy based on energy efficiency and renewables. If Germany can do without new nuclear than surely Britain with its vast renewables resources should be able to do it? Several recent studies (see for example) show that new nuclear is neither necessary nor desirable. The slogan "Nuclear Power? No Thanks" is as valid now as it has been for decades.