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UK Commits Itself to Nuclear in the Name of a Carbon-free Future. Will Other Countries Follow?

nuclear power plantHinkley Point C is one step closer to reality. The United Kingdom and its french nuclear energy developer, Electricite de France, signed a deal on Thursday. The largely state-owned energy company will own two-thirds of the plant while China, which is also a major investor in the project, will own a third. Total cost: close to $24 billion.

The plant, which is scheduled to be completed in five years, will provide about 7 percent of the United Kingdom’s electricity needs and have the capacity to produce 3,200 megawatts. The purpose in making the investment is to transition away from coal and toward more carbon-free energy sources. The current government, though, had become concerned that outside interest would control major parts of the country’s infrastructure and had wanted some assurances that their ownership could not be sold off without prior approval.

Critics maintain that the plant is too costly and that the power to be sold from it will be priced too high — money intended to offset the risks that the builder is taking. Similar projects in France and in Finland are over budget.

At issue: The European Pressurized Reactor, which is considered a next-generation technology that improves not only efficiencies but also safety. In Normandy, France, where that technology is underway, the companies are dealing with mechanical setbacks.

“On the eve of the official signing of the Hinkley agreement, this is a cautionary tale that should make our government think twice before putting pen to paper. The UK government is about to sign away billions of pounds of billpayers’ money to a project bedevilled by legal, financial and technical hurdles,” the Guardian newspaper reports Greenpeace’s John Sauven as saying.  “Theresa May cannot build a 21st-century industrial strategy around an outdated, dodgy, and ludicrously expensive technology.”

The UK’s move is in direct contrast to such countries as Germany and Switzerland, which are working to get rid of their nuclear plants. Over the short run, coal will fill the void but long term, the countries expect renewables to do so.

What about the United States and will the potential enactment of the Clean Power Plan facilitate nuclear energy here? The Clean Power Plan aims to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030.

Southern Company, Scana Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority are the first to dive in: Southern Co. and its partners are building two new units where two other other nuclear reactors now reside. The total price tag is estimated at $21 billion. Of that, the partnership got a $8 billion loan guarantee.

Still, a handful nuclear units in this country have either shut down or have announced that they will do so: Duke Energy and Southern California Edison closed their Florida and Southern California facilities, respectively, because of persistent technical issues. Meanwhile, Dominion has closed its Wisconsin unit, Exelon will shut down plants in New Jersey and Illinois, and Entergy will cease its Vermont Yankee, all because they are unable compete with natural gas.

“The Clean Power Plan wont cause a nuclear renaissance,” says Rob Barnett, analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, on a conference call. “It is neutral on nuclear power.” 

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One thought on “UK Commits Itself to Nuclear in the Name of a Carbon-free Future. Will Other Countries Follow?

  1. “next-generation technology’…that’s a very short-sighted codswallop….more spin, more meaningless words..It’s tragic to see that the future of the world as a place in which humans can live still revolves around ‘how much will it cost’…a system has been created which leaks like a sieve so they just call for more water. The world has become chaos under evil and sordid “leaders”…Chicago crooks would be more the right term, and of all colours, controlled by the Financiers. “Critics maintain that the plant is too costly and that the power to be sold from it will be priced too high — money intended to offset the risks that the builder is taking”…ummmm excuse me…if the architects actually do a correct design for a change the builder’s risks will be ascertainable and it’s long overdue the governments were prosecuted or thrown out of office for connivance and for an apparent inability to write a proper contract protecting taxpayers….”Risk” doesn’t mean ‘maintaining profit at the 33% builder’s want’…”Risk” mean proper pdca engagement. We the citizens have to be ready to take reduced lifestyles, save money where possible and re-organise society so all people can contribute at least ‘something’, boot out your fifth columnist congress and install O’bama care….and wean people off psychiatrists…..what sicker nation can there be than USA in the so called first world, with every person seemingly quoting ‘my counsellor says’ …my psychiatrist says’ and so forth. So China owns a third!…marvellous, making fast track to take over the Pacific and conniving with the Australian Government (not the Australian people….no government is representative of ‘the people’ as all are controlled by debt and ideology….over exploiting Antarctica..and China has been very aggressive in Antarctica

    Another factor the citizens in my view ought to control is this pathos of ‘we’ll cut emisisons if everyone else does’…are they really so very very stupid or is this the new order ensuring that people are kept under the thumb as globalised serfdom and monoculture controlled by fear and military ‘brutality”…. For these nations mentioned…all Machiavellian and ruthless, to have joined in the half baked scheme which it seems to me should be open to public scrutiny by the enthusiasts but also the skeptics and have the people protect themselves from the so usual government rip-offs perpetrated by ’embedded’ contractors and wheels within wheels …like Halliburton.

    How about a really clear report on the assets and impacts, risks of the project…not their advertising humbug and the effects if ‘something goes wrong’

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