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Scotland, with its renewable energy success, has no need for nuclear power

the reason the UK Government has backed nuclear so completely is less to do with net zero, and more to do with military needs.

Holyrood, 14 Sept 22, “………………………………………………………………….Torness nuclear power station is now coming to the end of its life. It is expected to shut down in 2028. Forrest explains: “The life-limiting factor of Torness – and it was the same at Hunterston [B, a nuclear power plant in North Ayrshire which ceased operations in January] – is our graphite core. The graphite core, as it gets older, we get a thing called keyway root cracks. Now, operationally we don’t see them, we don’t feel them, it doesn’t affect the plant in how it operates safely. How it does affect the plant is that we are required to demonstrate that we can withstand a Californian-style seismic event… As the onset of keyway root cracking progresses, that becomes more difficult and therefore at some point, because of the seismic input motion, we will choose to shut this power station down.”

It’s been clear since the 80s that we don’t have to have nuclear

The Scottish Government’s opposition to nuclear means that once Torness closes, that will be the end of nuclear power in Scotland. It is in stark opposition to the approach of the UK Government, which is backing the installation of eight new nuclear reactors by the end of the next decade…………………

Andy Stirling, a professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, has been working in this field for over three decades. He says: “Simply looking at the government’s own assessments – albeit often hidden away in the grey literature – it’s been clear since the 80s that we don’t have to have nuclear. …………

A paper published last month by LUT University in Finland, supported by academics from 14 other institutions, confirms Stirling’s view. Taking evidence from hundreds of studies, it concluded: “In the early 2020s, the consensus has increasingly become that solar PV and wind power will dominate the future energy system and new research increasingly shows that 100 per cent renewable energy systems are not only feasible but also cost effective.”…………………….

Chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex says” “……………the UK Government’s decisions mean Scotland will be able to access nuclear power from the grid. “In one sense, the Scottish Government position – whilst I think it’s not particularly robust in terms of science or logic, I can understand the politics behind it – it doesn’t matter because other bits of the GB system will be able to provide the bits that there’s no political appetite in Scotland to do,” he says.

The Scottish Government, for its part, argues a mixture of renewables, storage and hydrogen offer “the best pathway to net zero by 2045”. The leaps made in renewables in recent years strengthen that argument. Phil Johnstone, a research fellow also at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit, says it is “staggering” that the UK as a whole is “not shouting from the rooftops more about what has happened in Scotland”.

He adds: “It’s gone from less than 30 per cent renewables electricity to nearly 100 per cent in 10 years. And it’s just amazing that you have people in Westminster and the [UK] Government saying Scotland is being very irrational in not having nuclear. I mean, the comparison could not be more stark – what Scotland has done with renewables and what’s happened in 10 years [versus] what has happened with the nuclear renaissance in 10 years.”

He continues: “If you’re looking at net zero and you’re looking at speed and you’re looking at the urgency of the situation and you’re looking on the grounds of cost, if you use these criteria, which are the things you evaluate energy policy from, then it would suggest to me that Scotland is a doing a sensible thing.”

Both he and Stirling say the reason the UK Government has backed nuclear so completely is less to do with net zero, and more to do with military needs. When this argument was put to a senior civil servant by MPs during an inquiry on Hinkley Point C in 2017, they were told: “We have at some point to renew the warheads, so there is very definitely an opportunity here for the nation to grasp in terms of building up its nuclear skills. I do not think that that is going to happen by accident; it is going to require concerted government action to make it happen.”

Indeed, the SNP’s position on nuclear power is linked to their long-standing opposition to Trident. But Stirling says using the civil sector to maintain the nuclear deterrent is “a feasible way of funding it,” if the government so chooses. However, he says there needs to be more transparency, particularly when ultimately the cost of building nuclear plants falls to consumers via energy bills………………………………………… more https://www.holyrood.com/inside-politics/view,is-the-scottish-governments-antinuclear-stance-the-right-one

September 19, 2022 - Posted by | politics, UK

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