£9 Billion on a useless technology

A contract in which one party pays another £9 billion is by any accounts a big contract to land and it is also a big contract to lose. Nuclear Management Partners has lost a £9bn contract to clean up the nuclear waste site at Sellafield because, it seems, of overcharging and time delays. There was six years left on the contract when the government of the United Kingdom cancelled it. Continue reading

Be Prepared

“British Energy Policy” is a contradiction in terms. There has been no energy policy for at least twenty years, just a collection of ill thought out statements backed by political dogma which ignores the reality of what the United Kingdom needs for energy and how it can be done. It is likely that the next very cold winter that the United Kingdom experiences will see power cuts and gas shortages. Continue reading

The True Cost of Nuclear Energy

Some think that nuclear energy is an important source of electricity and ought to be part of every nation’s energy generating system. Others think that nuclear energy is too dangerous to use and we should decommission nuclear power plants all over the world. I tend towards the latter view, but accept that there may be some merit in the former view. Whatever view you hold about nuclear energy everyone who thinks about it agrees that there must be a safe and perfect way of storing nuclear waste to prevent the waste being used for weapons and to prevent the waste leaking into the atmosphere or the sea or the land where it will cause harm and damage to human health and to the health of the ecosystem where the waste is stored. Continue reading

A Dangerous Necessity?

The Japanese are the only nation upon which atomic bombs have been dropped. They have always had a cautious approach to nuclear power, but nevertheless have managed to create an economy under which a third of their electrical power was dependent upon nuclear energy. After Fukushima the Government put the decision to continue to operate nuclear power plants in the hands of the municipalities, and within a few months of the nuclear accident at Fukushima all nuclear power plants in Japan were closed down, temporarily.

Nuclear energy is important to the Japanese economy. It is not important because it is cheap – nuclear energy is not cheap over its whole life cycle, but it is important because it is there. Japan has little in the way of fuel for energy and having decided to invest in nuclear energy, once that investment no longer produces a return, returning to fossil fuel becomes expensive and requires more investment.

In order to counter this when the nuclear power plants were closed down the Japanese campaigned for people to use 15% less electricity. It is a sensible campaign. In Japan as in every other nation much energy is wasted. By that I do not mean that everyone wastes energy, but many people and businesses do, and reducing consumption by 15% is probably a rather modest aim.

But governments, who mainly want to get re elected and often forget the reasons why the put themselves forward for election in the first place, get worried is they feel that they might not get re elected. The economy, stupid, is probably what determines the results of elections and as most governments’ foresight is mainly limited to the next election the Japanese government is becoming worried that using fossil fuel, which for Japan is more expensive than the already paid for nuclear reactors, is sending the price of electricity high and will make goods more expensive thus damaging exports thus creating unemployment.

As a result the Japanese are proposing to restart two nuclear power plants. If they do the price of electricity may fall, the economy may improve and that may pave the way for starting more nuclear power plants, although the one at Fukushima will never, I expect, come back into operation. As nuclear power plants are located on the coasts in order to use the ocean as a device to cool the large amounts of heat generated by the power plants, I expect the Japanese, much like the rest of the world, are praying that no new tsunami occurs.

The Japanese are unfortunately qualified to make judgements about nuclear power, and must decide whether nuclear power is a dangerous necessity or dangerous luxury.


Radioactive Food

We are constantly advised that nuclear energy is safe and that the fallout from nuclear incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima has been insignificant. This, I hope is true, but fears linger on. Some good nuclear news happened recently when restrictions on moving sheep in Cumbria and North Wales are finally removed. Continue reading

Rubbernecking nuclear plants

Building a nuclear power plant in a region where there is a history of earthquakes may look, in retrospect,  like an example of humanity’s arrogance in believing that it can master the environment in which it lives. The same would apply to building nuclear power plants in places where they may be affected by tsunami, violent hurricanes, severe flooding, volcanoes or where the region is controlled by evil people. Continue reading

Subsidies for the nuclear energy industry

The United Kingdom Government has pledged that any new nuclear power plants will be built without public subsidy. If their pledge holds good it will be a relief to those of us running solar thermal businesses; traditional energy companies enjoy advantages that those in the renewable industry have never received. Continue reading