News on Nukes from the UK

I saw a couple of interesting items today on the continuing debate over building more nuclear reactors in Great Britain. As you likely know, Prime Minister Tony Blair supports renewed nuclear energy development. Opponents, though, are challenging such a move, and basing their opposition on a range of issues.

  • From the Guardian, via Energy Bulletin, a group of parliament members plans to release a report from the parliamentary environmental audit committee claiming that nuclear power “cannot solve energy supply problems in the short term and crucial questions of security, cost and effectiveness remain unanswered…” The MPs are primarily concerned with two issues: 1) the security risks posed by nuclear reactors, and 2) the costs and timeframe of bring new nuclear power facilities online. This report follows one by the government’s Sustainable Development Commission that “…concluded that there was no justification for bringing forward a new programme of reactors.”
  • Two professors in the business college at the University of Warwick have published a report claiming “if the UK Government opts for new nuclear build, it risks becoming locked into expensive technology that won’t help reduce carbon emissions.”

The authors say that in order to tackle rising emissions, the government will need to transform the remaining 92 per cent or so of the energy market. …

The report authors say that if Government decided to take the nuclear route there could be an undermining of liberalisation and privatisation within the overall energy industry, and any development of non-nuclear – such as renewables – could be prejudiced.

There’s a podcast of the two professors speaking about their findings at the University of Warwick’s website

So, if we look at these together, we see claims that nuclear power increases security risks and decreases the function of the free market in the energy sector (which undermines nuke supporters’ claims that will only be “a part of the mix”). All of this at incredibly high prices and long lead times. Tell me again: what makes nuclear power a preferable option to renewables?

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