More Nuclear Power Isn’t Needed. So Why Do Governments Keep Hyping It? Last week the country’s Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, stated: “While renewables like wind and solar will become an integral part of where our electricity will come from by 2050, they will always require a stable low-carbon baseload from nuclear.” Because the availability of wind and sun fluctuates, the government’s reasoning is that, as Britain’s coal and gas turbines are shut down, nuclear power will be required to provide a constant, stable source of electricity. But many experts, including Steve Holliday, the former CEO of the U.K. National Grid, say that notion is outdated. In a 2015 interview Holliday trashed the concept of baseload, arguing that in a modern, decentralized electricity system, the usefulness of large power stations had been reduced to coping with peaks in demand. But even for that purpose, Sarah J. Darby, associate professor of the energy program at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, told me, nuclear isn’t of much use. “Nuclear stations are particularly unsuited to meeting peak demand: they are so expensive to build that it makes no sense to use them only for short periods of time,” she explained. “Even if it were easy to adjust their output flexibly—which it isn’t—there doesn’t appear to be any business case for nuclear, whether large, small, ‘advanced’ or otherwise.” In a white paper published in June, a team of researchers at Imperial College London revealed that the quickest and cheapest way to meet Britain’s energy needs by 2035 would be to drastically ramp up the building of wind farms and energy storage, such as batteries. “If solar and/or nuclear become substantially cheaper then one should build more, but there is no reason to build more nuclear just because it is ‘firm’ or ‘baseload,’” Tim Green, co-director of Imperial’s Energy Future Lab told me. “Storage, demand-side response and international interconnection can all be used to manage the variability of wind.” So if there isn’t a need for more nuclear power, and it’s too expensive and slow to do the job its proponents are saying it will do, why is the government so keen to back it? Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, is convinced that the pressure to support nuclear power comes from another U.K. commitment: defense. More specifically, the country’s fleet of nuclear submarines.
Forbes 6th Aug 2021 read more »
Towards a clean and sustainable energy system: 26 criteria nuclear power does not meet, by Jan Haverkamp.
Heinrich Boell (accessed) 7th Aug 2021 read more »