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Britain’s second option for new nuclear – Big Nuclear Reactors

 A secret military agenda.  UK defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the dark, Beyond NuclearBy David Thorpe, 8 Nov 20    “……..The second option for new nuclear.   While Downing Street is pushing SMRs, BEIS has been looking for a way to finance the £20 billion Sizewell C reactor which EDF has been lobbying to build in Suffolk. This could be why it did not want to bankroll Rolls Royce’s expansion.

One idea being floated by BEIS is the government taking equity stakes in future nuclear plants such as Sizewell C, the energy minister has confirmed.

French energy company EDF is unable to continue with its plans for a new UK nuclear power station without even more government support than it has already had.

The CEO of EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy, met the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak recently to beg for such support. The head of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, wrote to the Chancellor saying giving support may be in EDF’s interests, but it is not in the UK’s. Nevertheless, the government is considering taking a direct stake in the project, using a “Regulated Asset Base” (RAB) financing model, where costs are added to consumers’ bills during construction.

This would still result in multibillion-pound liabilities showing on the government’s balance sheet. So the Treasury is studying whether the government should in return have equity stakes in EDF’s Sizewell plant.

The government previously offered to take a one-third stake in Hitachi’s Wylfa plant on Anglesey, but the Japanese company still scrapped the project last month – even then it was too expensive.

The RAB approach is being challenged anyway by the national nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, because it could introduce a dual regulator for the industry, which it does not regard as sensible or workable.

Renewables can supply UK energy needs and net zero targets sooner and cheaper than nuclear

Renewables are safer, cheaper, quicker to install and genuinely low carbon, with no fuel supply chain.

The Sizewell reactor could not realistically be supplying power until 2034 at the earliest, while wind and solar plants take less than two years to commission, on average.

The ability of the national grid to absorb more fluctuating renewable electricity input is improving, helped by the collapsing cost of batteries, and investment in hydrogen and other forms of storage.

The National Infrastructure Commission has testified that the absorption of 65 per cent renewables on the grid by 2030 is cost-effective – and more is technically achievable.

Implicitly recognising the truth of this, the Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific Adviser on nuclear science and technology matters, Robin Grimes, has just opened up another front against renewables.

Grimes is advocating nuclear power’s potential for cogeneration – using its “waste” heat for all manner of things from district heating and seawater desalination to synthetic fuel production and industrial process heat.

This is not likely to make much of a dent in the cost-benefit equation.

Alarm bells should be set ringing when you know that this same Grimes was also co-author of a once-secret report in 2014 for the Ministry of Defence where it was recommended that the UK nuclear submarine industry needs to forge links with civil nuclear power in order to extricate itself from the dire situation it is in.

This secret report discussed what to do about the radiation-leaking Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment, a military submarine reactor testing facility built in 1950 at Dounreay in Scotland.

Engineers with nuclear expertise are dying out with the reactors. New nuclear subs need a new supply chain and new expertise. What better place to tackle all these issues?…………….

November 9, 2020 - Posted by | politics, UK

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