Government gives "Green Light?" for Nuclear Power generation increase.
The UK government this week (10/1/08) has given its clearest and most certain indication of it's commitment to a Nuclear power electricity generating increase in capacity since it came to power, here at Green ISP we have some issues we would like to raise?
Let us play devils advocate here then, even a very objective advocate at that, lets assume that most problem issues surrounding the Nuclear industry; such as safetey, security and cost were resolved, no need to worry (which is far from the situation and the truth of course), lets assume that the delivery accross tha network (grid) was efficient (it's not however, local micro generation projects are more efficient, even PV is if locally sited) , we have some questions?? please read on........
The benefits are questionable and waste disposal expensive.
So now just after the 60th anniversary of nuclear electricity production in Britain, it is appropriate to review what benefits it has brought apart from ensuring a ready supply of enriched fuels for nuclear weapons, high cost electricity and a nuclear waste legacy. Still, after more than 60 years, there is not only no safe way to dispose of the accumulated high level radioactive waste, there is no strategy in place to dispose of it. By 2025 all but one of Britain’s reactors are due to be decommissioned producing further piles of low and high-level radioactive waste.
Britain currently has around 31 reactors in 14 power stations generating 20-25% of the nation’s electricity. As an example of Nuclear energy cost effectiveness eight of the newest power stations were privatised to British Energy in 1996. In 2002 the government bailed out British Energy from insolvency through a £650 million loan and by underwriting the decommissioning fund for the reactors to the tune of £150-200 million pounds per annum for a minimum of 10 years, decreasing thereafter (by how much??) up to 2086. Its public partner British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) operates the remaining six power stations and all nuclear waste liabilities it has made an operating loss since its inception.
Figures for past financial years reveal total losses before tax in 2002 (£1017 million), 2003 (£299 million) and 2004 (£287 million). It seems the nuclear fuel industry is being subsidised to the tune of £500 million pounds per year by the taxpayer. Thus the following statement in the government white paper on energy policy in 2003 states that renewable energy sources should be a priority and that ‘while nuclear is currently an important source of carbon free electricity, the current economics of nuclear power make it an unattractive option for new generating capacity and there are also important issues for nuclear waste to be resolved.’
Questions about global security?
Roger Higman, a climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth has said, ”If we are going to be using nuclear to combat climate change, it will be impossible to persuade anybody else to reduce their emissions without giving them access to nuclear power.. and that also enables them to build nuclear bombs."
Questions regarding supply Uraniuml?
The nuclear industry have traditionally argued that nuclear energy is a reliable source of energy in the longer term [WNA 2003], but for how long? There are many technical issues, related to the choice of reactor and the operation of the fuel cycle, which affect the longevity of the uranium resource. Potentially these choices could limit the viability of the uranium resource to a few decades.
To decide how valid an option nuclear energy is we must understand the limitations on the availability of uranium, and the current state of reactor technology. There are many uncertainties about how the nuclear industry might develop in the future, but it is possible to conclude that the supply of uranium, at a level that could support largescale power generation, might only be viable for a matter of decades. Potentially, could a shortage of uranium be the Achilles-heel of the nuclear industry that, so far, the anti-nuclear lobby have missed this?
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To make a significant contribution to energy supply nuclear energy would have to expand by such a scale that
the lifetime of the uranium resource, along with issues such as the management of radioactive waste and the control of fissile materials, are always going to be problematic. Unlike plant safety or the emission of radioactivity, which can be controlled through better engineering or management, the basic issue of how much energy can be produced from nuclear sources is limited by physical laws and the scale of current global energy demand.
There are clear shortcomings in the current methodology for assessing uranium resources because they are
based entirely on the economic costs of production, not the net energy value of the resource once the costs of
extraction and use are taken into account. This has important implications, which vary according to the selection of the fuel cycles and reactor technologies used, on the lifetime of the uranium resource. Until the net energy value of the uranium resource, and different fuel cycles, is taken into account we can have no clear understanding of the productive future of the nuclear industry.
It is a cost effective option?
Around £70 billion is the calculation so far to clean up old nuclear power stations.
just imagine if this money and all the rest squandered on the nuclear white elephant had been invested into sustainable technologies. Britain could be leading the world in a "Real" Low Carbon revolution. In the meantime, the government is intending to spend less than £50 million into research on wave and tidal power which some experts see as being able to supply up to 50% of all our domestic need if the will was there.
These are taken from:
Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations and Research,
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN.Tel./fax 01295 261864. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Paul Mobbs, March 2005. Released under the Gnu Free Documentation License.
Published in Oxford Energy Forum, the quarterly journal of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies,
Issue 61, May 2005. (see http://www.oxfordenergy.org/ for details of the OIES).
Contributions by David Pym.Sources: RMI and EarthScan, cnduk,