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Plant life (who's talking about a nuclear revival?)

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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1099
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:11 am    Post subject: Plant life (who's talking about a nuclear revival?) Reply with quote

A pretty interesting article from earlier on this year:

Plant life
Nuclear power is making a comeback in Britain - so the rumour goes. But who exactly is calling for its return, asks Tom Burke, and what of the coal option?

Wednesday May 18, 2005
The Guardian

New nuclear power stations are inevitable. That is the message from a barrage of headlines in recent weeks. "Secret" plans to announce the building of 10 new nuclear power stations after the election played nicely into the running story of a prime minister with a trust problem. But who is calling for these new nuclear stations?

Not the utilities that run Britain's electricity system. The authoritative 2005 survey of utility boardrooms found that industry leaders' expectation that nuclear power plants would be replaced had fallen by half since 2004 to a minuscule 15%. Not ministers, either, who have consistently pointed out that they would be delighted if someone wanted to build a new nuclear power station - provided they paid for it themselves. And not the Treasury, which confirmed recently that it is doing no work on new ways to finance nuclear construction.
In reality, the current clamour is just the dead ducks of the nuclear industry quacking away as usual.
The nuclear lobby is desperately seeking a way around the "who pays?" rock on which Thatcher's plans sank. Its problem is that the economics of nuclear power stink. Even if you generously assume solutions to the problems of public acceptability and radioactive waste, and that the taxpayer will go on underwriting the third-party insurance and post-closure liabilities risks, they still stink.

Ten is always the magic number in the size of the proposed programme because anything less takes away the economies of scale necessary to bring the capital costs of the stations within reach. Financing a programme this big means paying for it out of the public purse or rigging the electricity market to cover the private investors' risks.
Unfortunately, nuclear power cannot help with this problem. If all the above obstacles could be overcome, 2007 would be an optimistic date for any order to build a nuclear power station. Starting from there and doing better than the nuclear industry has ever done before, the first station might be up and operating by 2014. If two stations at a time were ordered, and do even better, there might be three in operation by 2020 when the nine-station emission gap appears.
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