The UK Government is missing huge opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency which could effectively tackle climate change and fuel poverty, while it fantasises about building up to 50 new reactors by 2050 with nowhere to put the nuclear waste.
The UK’s Energy Consumption amounts to around 1635 Terawatt Hours per year (TWh/yr). Electricity consumption is around 328TWh/y and the planned new nuclear station, Hinkley Point C, would be expected to produce 25TWh/yr if it was able to operate at an unlikely 90% load factor.
Yet UK Government plans are currently missing out on:
An extra 155TWh/year of electricity could be generated by offshore wind by 2030;
About 40TWh/year could be saved by implementing a comprehensive domestic energy efficiency programme by 2030, and this could be increased by 100TWh/year of electricity saved through other efficiency measures;
Between 22 and 140TWh/yr of electricity could be generated from solar panels on domestic roofs; and another 30TWh/yr of electricity from solar panels on industrial and commercial roofs;
140-190TWh/yr could be generated from solar farms – just using land currently used for growing biofuels.
Instead of developing plans to meet 100% of our electricity requirements from renewable energy, as in many other countries, the UK Government has been considering plans for 75GW of new nuclear capacity – about 50 new reactors – by 2050. Such a scenario would likely require around four deep nuclear dumps to be built somewhere in the UK – yet we haven’t even found a site for the waste we have already created.
Hinkley Point C is now expected to cost £6 billion more than building an equivalent station in France, and there are reported to be 724 unresolved safety issues with the EPR reactor.
With up to 7 million homes plunged into fuel poverty this winter, and around 24,000 deaths from cold related illnesses in England and Wales alone, government attacks on energy efficiency leading to dramatic falls in the number of lofts, cavities and solid walls being insulated, it must surely now be clearer than ever that the Government’s obsession with nuclear power is distracting attention from what we really should be doing to end fuel poverty and tackle climate change.
2014 needs to be the year when nuclear subsidies are finally scrapped and energy efficiency is put firmly at the centre of future UK energy policy.
For more on these stories see nuClear News No.58, January 2014.