Skip to main content

Great Britain Okays Nuclear Energy

rhs-chelsea-flower-show

Once, it was dead.

A White Paper on energy, released in 2003, described nuclear power as an "unattractive option" and included no plans to replace existing reactors when they closed. Although it left a tiny door ajar open to more nuclear plants, Friends of the Earth said the policy sounded "the death knell" for nuclear power in Britain.

One thing you learn in life is not to declare something dead unless there’s no evidence of breath on the mirror.

The Prime Minister [Gordon Brown] will set "no upper limit" on the number of nuclear plants that will be built by private companies. That would mean nuclear, which provides about 20 per cent of Britain's electricity, could meet a bigger share after the new generation of nuclear stations come on stream over the next 15 years.

This comes via the Independent’s Andrew Grice. While Brown says the sky’s the limit, the number being contemplated currently is eight. Why is this happening now? Well, Tony Blair, the previous prime minister, had already laid the groundwork by advocating for nuclear energy against that 2003 report, and it may be that Brown is seeing his options narrow a bit. Why should this be? The Guardian’s Michael White writes:

Ministers want the private sector to make the running, but fear that the parallel contraction of the UK's coal and oil-fired generating capacity, on environmental grounds, will trigger a serious energy gap unless the government moves decisively.

(I think “to make the running” above means “to make it happen” in Amurrican. We’ve noted the government’s attempts to exit the energy business in recent weeks.)

We might add to this formulation that Great Britain has a set of aging plants expected to be retired in the next 15 years and these new ones will likely act as more robust replacements.

Some of the “she said” in the he said she said reporting paradigm are getting pretty tired.

John Sauven of Greenpeace said: "This is bad news for the fight against climate change. Nuclear power cannot get us out of the carbon hole.”

and

The Liberal Democrats also warned that a switch to more nuclear energy would do nothing to solve the immediate problems caused by the doubling of oil prices over the past year.

It makes you think Liberal Democrats have the life span of mayflies and think only in terms of tomorrow or perhaps next week. (Granted, politicians everywhere and across the ideological spectrum think too much in terms of now – you might argue that we wouldn’t be where we are “now” if more thinking was done about “now” when it was “then.”)

As for Greenpeace, well, it’s not as though you can’t count on them for a tart quote when you’re doing a nuclear story, so there it is.

But in sum, this is terrific news. Europe is quickly moving toward a nuclear solution, with Asia on its heels . We’ll be looking to see how industry in Britain responds to this vote of confidence.

Picture of alliums in the cancer research garden at the Chelsea Garden Show in London.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…