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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

UK’s pursuit of risky investment in nuclear energy may result in no investment in affordable and effective technologies to combat climate change.

Gordon MacKerron: This way is more likely to leave us in the dark,  

“There is a real risk we may get the worst of both worlds, where nuclear investment stalls under a risky investment climate while markets hold back from other investment in the expectation that nuclear is just around the corner.”

The Government says it is committed to nuclear energy, but has done nothing to make it more attractive. The Prime Minister’s announcement last week opens up the danger of the country being left with no new reactors, nor any greener alternatives.

Gordon MacKerron: Can nuclear power play a large part in getting to net-zero? In late 2020, there was a flurry of announcements about climate change and energy – first a ten-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ followed a few weeks later by a much–delayed energy White Paper.

Nuclear power figures prominently in both narratives, with three possible ways forward. In this blog, Professor MacKerron, CESI Associate Director and Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the Science Policy and Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex discusses these routes.

First, there is a long-term hope that a UK-only commercial fusion design will be ready by 2040.
The second possibility is a push (‘aim’) to have one more large nuclear plant brought to final investment decision by 2024, following the almost-decade-late Hinkley C.

The problems in these two nuclear avenues inevitably throw a lot of weight on to the third strand, the development of so-called modular reactors, both ‘small’ (SMRs) and ‘advanced’ (AMRs).

Even if all nuclear plans worked out as the White Paper hopes – in terms of developing new low-carbon capacity on the predicted time-scale – it is far from clear that this would be  achieved at anywhere near competitive cost.

Even if nuclear power does well, large reactors will play, at best, a very small part in the move to net zero carbon by 2050. While modular reactors could do more, there is huge uncertainty, probable extended timelines and no guarantee of any kind of success. (See also Independent 13th Jan 2008 “There is a real risk we
may get the worst of both worlds, where nuclear investment stalls under a risky investment climate while markets hold back from other investment in the expectation that nuclear is just around the corner.”)
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/gordon-mackerron-this-way-is-more-likely-to-leave-us-in-the-dark-770005.html

April 19, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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