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The collapse of UK’s planned nuclear power programme ?

nuclear-costs3flag-UKHorizon boss’s statement exposes fantasy nature of UK nuclear power programme  The boss of one of the three supposed consortia claimed to be building Britain’s nuclear power stations has all but admitted that his project is a fantasy one. As can be read in the Telegraph story below, the boss of the ‘Horizon’ project has said that new nuclear power in the UK depends on private investors. Well, that is not going to happen. Who would want to put shares in a venture that might (as in the case of its project in Taiwan) take 15 years not to be completed, or which may not work very well? Nobody.   The only possible exceptions to this are (foreign) governments with political, rather than than money-making, objectives. Even they are disappearing! (France and China).

The Hitachi based ‘Horizon’ project with two ‘planned’ developments in Wylfa and Oldbury has always looked unlikely, especially given the chequered operating record of the chosen reactor which would, on its own, scare off any investors. I certainly wouldn’t want my pension to depend on this, for financial, never mind radioactive, reasons.
Of course, some people, breezily argue, the government could pay for the power stations. As if we need to spend billions and billions money on nuclear power stations that never seem to be finished instead of hospitals……

In reality the nuclear power programme collapsed in 2012 when it emerged that the Treasury insisted that nuclear power should not receive a state blank cheque. E.ON, RWE, SSE and Centrica all withdrew from nuclear power construction plans. But now for four years our energy and carbon reduction programmes have been distorted in order to preserve the British engineering establishment’s soft spot for nuclear power. The current government defends its lack of investment in real green energy by referring to its fantasy plans for new nuclear power stations.

Nuclear power ‘expansion’ plans are collapsing all around the world, the only few exceptions being where there are state sanctioned electricity supply monopolies where nuclear interests can control government policies. Even then, there are limits, as in the case of  EDF. This mainly state owned dinosaur is heading for financial collapse as the long term costs of nuclear power come home to roost, and the failure to implement new ‘safer’ reactor designs become apparent (see earlier blog posts on this).

EDF has announced once again (Feb 16th), that its decision on building Hinkley C will be taken ‘soon’ (soon has meant the same for the last 3 years) and in practice it is waiting, in effect, for the French Government to agree that French electricity consumers/taxpayers should subsidise nuclear power for the British! All to save the pride of the EDF leadership! It sounds bizarre, and I doubt whether even EDF’s hold on the French Government can engineer such an outcome.

EDF could still turn their ship around of course, by helping achieve France’s targets to expand renewable energy. But are they capable of dragging themselves away from their nuclear-dream-turned-sour, or will they waste what few reserves they have left in planning new reactor designs?

See the Telegraph article:

February 25, 2016 - Posted by | business and costs, UK

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