The UK faces a looming energy gap. The government would like to partly fill the gap by building a new generation of nuclear power stations. However, nuclear power is neither renewable nor free of significant greenhouse gas emissions.

This detailed examination of nuclear power from WinACC's Bob Whitmarsh concludes:

"Two possible conclusions can be reached ...  at opposite ends of a spectrum of views.

1)        A nuclear energy proponent will argue that one more generation of new nuclear power stations will help to temporarily fill the energy gap until renewable energy is sufficiently developed to take over entirely. It will be maintained, in spite of some current estimates, that new uranium reserves will be found, or fuels can be created using the fast breeder fuel cycle. The risks will be considered as worth taking and the argument will emphasise the increasing reliability, safety and security of nuclear power stations while downplaying the high-level waste disposal problem.

2)        A nuclear energy sceptic will argue that, although a new generation of nuclear power stations may help to temporarily fill the energy gap, such power stations are likely to come on stream in the UK only as global supplies of uranium fuel start to dry up and/or their exploitation generates more greenhouse gas than gas-fired power stations (the carbon dioxide trap). The argument will be that it seems inescapable that efforts and financial resources would be better spent on expanding existing, well tried, renewable energy technologies the lifetimes of which will not be constrained by any depletion of their ‘fuel’. Lastly, nuclear power carries the risk of serious accidents, will potentially bequeath hazardous waste to thousands of future generations and is open to terrorist attack.

In the final analysis it could be argued that the continued exploitation of nuclear energy in the form of a new generation of power stations is likely to face such serious practical problems that the construction and commissioning of any new nuclear power stations will probably be limited anyway."

Tags: 

Attachments

AttachmentSize
WinACC_view_nuclear_power_2016.pdf522.23 KB