Wednesday, 2 June 2010


There is a fascinating article in the Guardian concerning the true cost of nuclear power stations. The new Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, has announced that the country faces an unavoidable cost for cleaning up old nuclear waste and decommissioning facilities of around £4bn over coming years. This is equivalent to one-sixth of the overall planned cuts to reduce the budget deficit and completely puts the lie to the notion that nuclear power is affordable or practical.

Huhne has pointed out that the huge cost to his department of this necessary cleanup means that in effect it will be able to do nothing else, least of all invest in sustainable new technologies for energy generation.

The outcome of this horrendous expense is likely to be the final death knell for any plans for new nuclear power stations, which the coalition has agreed can only go ahead if they are built with no public subsidy and clear plans for their full costs over their whole lifetime. It is simply not possible for any private company to provide such guarantees, even the French government-subsidised EDF, which is the main outfit proposing this at the moment.

Finally, may I respond in advance to any scientists who tell me nuclear is the only option for our energy future. It isn't: it is an expensive white elephant which produces as much carbon as a conventional power station over its lifetime and the product of these facilities is some of the most dangerous materials the world has ever seen, materials which will remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years - long after EDF, Britain and France have ceased to exist. What happens then? The argument over nuclear fission has been had and comprehensively lost. The first nuclear power stations were only built because the figures were massaged to significantly understate the risks.

Anyone with an interest in developing nuclear technology needs to devote themselves to fusion. After all, a billion stars can't be wrong, can they? They might also address the shameful question of where wave power is? If ever there was an obvious source of energy for this, er, island, it is wave power.

So thank you nuclear industry for hobbling all our futures.


  1. You're quite right regarding the fission v fusion argument.
    One thing I haven't seen addressed is the question mark over the number of skilled people that would be needed. There's only a relatively small pool of experienced nuclear physicists and engineers with the necessary background (corrosion specialists, etc).My feeling, although I don't have the numbers to prove it, is that there are enough for either a nuclear power programme, or a new nuclear weapons system, but not both.

  2. Interesting thought, which comes back to the fundamental argument that a fair, sustainable society demands good education.

  3. "A coalition with the Tories is rather like sharing a milk shake with a four year old: it's quite fun but you need to be on your guard for the whole time or the infant will steal it all"

    Or more likely pour it ino your lap, or something!

  4. Yes, its the 'or something' we need to watch for...:-)

  5. Hi Andy - I hope you received my email about our nuclear power film project. We address the issues you have raised here - Enjoy the films and let us know what you think.

  6. I received your post but I am wary of publishing such details as it suggests endorsement and I do not know anything about your group. For the record for anyone reading this blog I am not endorsing the site but you might find what is on it of interest