This is a response to an article in the Shropshire Star, a regional English daily newspaper: Mark Andrews’ interesting article on the direction of future UK energy policy (“Britain’s nuclear power puzzle: How do we stop the lights going out?,” Shropshire Star, 22 January; https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/features/2019/01/22/how-do-we-stop-the-lights-going-out/) included several inaccurate assertions, including two very important errors by local MP Owen Patterson. The article asserts that with Japanese power generator Hitachi suspending (read cancelling) building work on a giant nuclear reactor at Wylfa power station in Anglesey, “it has blown a major hole in the Government’s energy strategy.” This is misleading, as is the assertion that “last year, nuclear power provided just under a fifth of Britain’s energy needs.” This conflates energy with electricity. Nuclear provides around 20% of electricity supply, which is only 7% of total energy (including for heat, transport etc). Wylfa would have provided 2% of national energy demand, hardly a big hole as electricity demand has dropped every year for a decade. The article also reports that world’s first nuclear power station opened at Calder Hall, near Sellafield in Cumbria, in 1956. This nuclear plant was opened that year, by a young HM Queen Elizabeth, but it was not a power plant, but a plutonium production factory for nuclear explosive materials for atomic warheads, with very expensive electricity generated as a spin off.
David Lowry’s Blog 23rd Jan 2019 read more »