THE HIGH COST OF NUCLEAR POWER
Contrary to the often-repeated claim that nuclear power is cheap (“Saving Britain's economy: ditch expensive wind farms”, 6 November), it is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity. It only seems cheap if we make wildly optimistic estimates of the cost of building nuclear plants, or assume that capital costs have been paid off, and if we ignore the enormous subsidies enjoyed by the nuclear industry all around the world.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, says that nuclear power is more expensive than offshore wind power.
The Economist has written that "More than half of the subsidies (in real terms) ever lavished on energy by OECD governments have gone to the nuclear industry."
A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that "Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away."
A report by the Insurance Forum, Leipzig, a company specialising in actuarial calculations, shows that, if the nuclear industry was required to insure fully against the cost of accidents, the price of nuclear electricity would rise by a range of values—€ 0.14 per kWh up to € 2.36 per kWh—depending on assumptions made.
Reports by the Energy Fair group show that nuclear power in the UK today benefits from 7 main types of subsidy, and the Government is proposing more.
Around the world, the average annual growth of wind power in the last 5 years has been more than 27% and the annual growth in solar power has been about 30%. In 2010, the worldwide growth of solar power was a whopping 70%. There is now abundant evidence that renewables can provide robust and reliable supplies of power, they are cheaper than nuclear power, and they can be built very much more quickly than nuclear power.
Instead of clinging to a failed technology of the past, we should be grasping the huge opportunities opening up in the clean, green technologies of the future.
Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng