It’s time to accept that our experience of nuclear power has faded our romance and that our eye has wandered towards a more beautiful object for our affections: renewable power generated from wind turbines, solar panels, tides and waves.
Most forward-thinking leaders in the energy industry are making plans to focus investment on the infrastructure desperately needed to upgrade our electricity distribution networks (most of which date back to the 1940’s) to handle the more intermittent technologies that characterise our clean energy future. This will provide jobs that boost our economy, revitalising communities across the country and distributing wealth more evenly.
The onset of battery storage, UK Power Networks, one of 6 Distribution Network Operators has delivered 667 connection applications totalling 12.2GW (the equivalent of four new Hinkley C power plants and half the heat, conversion and transmission losses). It’s time to alleviate ourselves of the burden of nuclear power, including its toxic, radioactive legacy, and move towards a future where our electricity comes from renewable sources, like wind, sun, tides and wave power.
The UK has witnessed a rapid growth in our renewable electricity generation in the past 8 years, from 2% in 2009 to 29% of our total consumption in 2017 . Only 15% of our power supply comes from nuclear power plants. The surge in solar generation has changed the profile of electricity supply on our networks, eliminating the fear of the lights going out by producing electricity from sunlight, free of charge.
Now that battery storage technology has evolved to a place of economic interest and affordability, we taxpayers must take a great interest in realigning our focus to where our money will be most wisely invested for our secure and affordable energy future. It is imperative that you understand this and communicate your lack of support for new nuclear power plants to your MP for the reasons given in the next section.
Reasons To Ditch Nuclear
There are many reasons why we must abandon the development of new nuclear power stations, as many leading countries, like Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Spain have already done.
Nuclear Power plants are dangerous, expensive and contain many extraneous costs that are funded by the taxpayer, like waste transport and decommissioning costs. Special interests talk about the green tax on electricity. There is also a tax on nuclear and fracking, we just pay it to the Government, instead of the energy supplier. At last estimate, decommissioning costs for our existing nuclear power plants range from anywhere between £119 – £260 billion – all to be funded by the taxpayer, through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which is funded by the Department of Business and Industry Strategy (BEIS).
In 2017, BEIS spent £3.2 billion on the NDA, almost 25% of its total budget. This fund must be maintained for our security, to avoid the chances of a disastrous nuclear accident which will only increase as more nuclear power plants come to the end of their useful lives. In September 2016, the BBC’s Panorama broadcasted a damaging report on the state of affairs in Sellafield because of budget cuts and a lack of skilled labour.
Nuclear Power plants take a long time to build. Finland’s Olkiluoto Nuclear Power plant, which is the same EPR technology as Hinkley C, to date unproven technology, has taken 13 years to build. It is due to start operations in September 2018. Its costs were almost triple the original budget of 3 billion euros, finishing at 8.5 billion euros. To build the Hinkley C nuclear power plant, the UK government has already committed to a strike price of 9.25p per kWh for the wholesale price of the electricity, a 67% increase over today’s price of 5.67p. These kind of pricing guarantees will increase electricity costs for the bill payer.
The UK has the largest stockpile of radioactive plutonium in the world, at estimated between 112 and 140 tons, stored in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Cumbria. There are currently no reactors in the UK that can process plutonium bearing materials, as the MOX plant that was constructed for this purpose, at great expense, is not longer in service. So, we have to find a way of storing this deadly waste. To date, no local authority in the country has offered to host the storage site that is estimated to cost in excess of £5 billion to construct. This should take us to the next 200 years. We do not have a long term solution for storing the waste, which has a lifetime of more than 10,000 years.
What Can You Do?
If you didn’t before you read this article, you may now want to do something to reduce the impact that nuclear power is having on how our taxpayer’s money is spent, how affordable our electricity will be in the future and the security of our environment and way of life. We suggest that you consider whether you want to continue being a customer of any energy supplier that sources its electricity from nuclear power. You can get this information by referring to this link.
You can decide what type of energy you purchase. You can exercise your power by how you spend your money. Contact BHESCo to switch your energy supplier today. We can help. Join the energy revolution. Join BHESCo.