Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Place of nuclear power and coal in future energy policy -

Place of nuclear power and coal in future energy policy - Comment - Times Online

From Professor Emeritus Dennis Anderson

Sir, You are supportive of nuclear power (leading article, August 8) but do not mention a problem that has afflicted it for 50 years, namely the propensity of its advocates to underestimate costs.

According to a study by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the costs of new nuclear plant, including those of decommissioning and waste disposal, would be 10 per cent less than the best available gas and coal-fired plant.

If that is the case, it is not the Government that is dithering but industry, for the Government is entitled to say: “Go ahead, build the stations — why turn to us?”

The answer is that costs are likely to be appreciably higher than such estimates, up to 100 per cent higher according to a highly regarded study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists, assuming the reactors are built on time and at cost. This difference amounts to £1 billion- £1.5 billion per 1,000MW station, which is presumably why the Treasury is hesitant.

There is a case to be made for nuclear power; climate change will not be costless, and energy security in all its forms is unquestionably important. But it must be based on a frank assessment of costs.

(Centre for Environmental Policy)
Imperial College, London


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