9 May 2011

Adair in nuclear wonderland


It was quite extraordinary and utterly surreal to hear the Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Adair Turner, on the radio this morning fantasising about nuclear power being a low cost option.(1)

A 2009 Citigroup report said "We see very little prospect of [civil nuclear] construction costs falling and every likelihood of them rising further" and "three of the risks faced by developers - construction, power price, and operational - are so large and variable that individually they could each bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially."(2)

Earlier this year the European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, confirmed that nuclear power was more expensive than offshore wind.(3)

In 2008 Ian Jackson wrote in his book "Nukenomics: The commercialisation of Britain's nuclear industry" that a "fully commercial price would make radioactive waste disposal far too expensive, killing the prospects of any new nuclear build programme in Britain."(4)

In February 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US released a study showing that nuclear power was not viable and never had been without significant public subsidies. (5) Just lifting the limitation on liabilities (likely to rise in the UK from £700m to £1.3bn) would make nuclear power impossible to justify in financial terms. Estimates for cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear accident range from $10bn to $133bn although frankly nobody has any idea.(6)

Calling nuclear power low cost is pure Alice in Wonderland.

References

1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9480000/9480126.stm

2) https://www.citigroupgeo.com/pdf/SEU27102.pdf
3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/17/wind-cheaper-nuclear-eu-climate
4) http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?storyCode=2049209
5) http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-subsidies-report.html
6) http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/world-news/tepco-claims-could-hit-36133-bnjapan-nuclear-crisis_533064.html