Hinkley C & UK Nuclear Energy
Oct 5, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Are articles on the UK and nuclear energy, mainly as a response to my post in 2016 with title Points about Hinkley. The articles, apart from that at (5), all come from Carbon Brief, which describes itself as a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. It claims to specialise in clear, data-driven articles and graphics to help improve the understanding of climate change, both in terms of the science and the policy response. Publishing a wide range of content, including science explainers, interviews, analysis and factcheck, as well as daily and weekly email summaries of newspaper and online coverage.
My conclusions about UK nuclear power are more political than environmental. I believe that large government projects have more to do with political opportunism, where the benefits may (or may not) be realised¹·²·³ and, in any event, are subordinated to the opportunity to create employment. A truly Keynesian solution, still used by the right and left of the political spectrum. Of course the added bonus may be a positive climate change geopolitical agenda for UK politicians and the support for UK nuclear power must be a real dilemma for the energy renewables lobby.
I haven’t come across any site on the social-media doesn’t promote an agenda of some sort (including the Carbon Brief and The New Scientist). I have to wonder at the climate science of both those for and against climate change, who use such sites to support their views on the subject. Especially since those sites that claim scientific data supporting their views on climate change science reach such diverse conclusions.
1. Does the UK ‘require’ new nuclear to reach net-zero emissions? The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) internal BEIS modelling and data, which is used to test and subsequently justify government policy, generally receives little attention, even though it often forms the bedrock of multi-billion pound decisions such as signing a contract to build the Hinkley C new nuclear plant.
2. Q&A: Can the UK meet its climate goals without the Wylfa nuclear plant? Recent analysis from the government’s official advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) shows the UK could meet its power demand and climate goals to 2030 at low cost, without any new nuclear beyond the Hinkley C scheme already being built in Somerset.
3. Q&A: The Hinkley C new nuclear plant: In July 2016, the National Audit Office said that onshore wind and solar would be far cheaper than new nuclear or gas in levelised cost terms. It says that other considerations might form a strategic case for new nuclear, citing renewables’ land requirements and intermittency.
4. How the UK transformed its electricity supply in just a decade: The UK has cleaned up its electricity mix faster than any other major world economy. Coal-fired power has virtually disappeared and even gas use is down by a quarter. Instead, the country now gets more than half of its electricity from low-carbon sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear. Renewables have filled the gap left by fossil fuels, along with falling electricity demand.
5. Shocking state of world’s riskiest nuclear waste site: The waste is stored at the UK’s Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site, which holds radioactive waste dating back to the dawn of the nuclear age. An accident at the derelict site could release radioactive materials into the air over the UK and beyond. The clean-up operation, scheduled to end by 2120, costs the government £1.9 billion a year.
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
- A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
- The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
- A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹Nuclear Provision — the cost of cleaning up Britain’s historic nuclear sites: (url/pdf) The Nuclear Provision also includes the costs of running more modern plants that are still operational, in particular Sellafield’s reprocessing facilities. Decommissioning many of these facilities will continue well into the 22nd century. Over this timescale, plans and forecasts will be affected by technology improvements, changes in government policy, economic circumstances and environmental issues. The figure is updated annually but should be regarded as an informed estimate that depends on assumptions about future developments and lies within a range of possible figures.
²What is radioactive waste? (pdf) Some radioactive wastes emit a lot of radiation, so are potentially dangerous if not handled properly. Three types of radiation can be given o . Alpha radiation travels only very short distances in air and a sheet of tissue is enough to block its passage. Beta radiation can be stopped by a few millimetres of aluminium. Gamma radiation requires several centimetres of lead or a metre or two of rock or concrete to stop it.
³The UK nuclear decommissioning projects you need to know about (url*): To give you an idea of the scale of the UK’s decommissioning activity, planned expenditure for the 2016-17 financial year was an enormous £3.2 billion (of which £3 billion was allocated for onsite expenditure, and £200 million for non-site expenditure such as skills development, socio-economic, research and development costs and NDA operating costs).