Then there is the issue of long term predictions.
It was the February 4 article in the Financial Times titled, “Nuclear Hazards: struggling industry aims for power surge,” that got our attention. There’s been so much going on in the UK with Brexit and such. It’s almost easy to forget that the country remains steadily on course to build (and subsidize) multiple new nuclear power generating stations employing multiple designs and technologies.
The FT article was so polite. Author Andrew Ward pointed out that the UK is the only western nation pursuing nuclear new build on anything remotely approaching this scale. Let’s call it what it is, shall we? The policy is barking mad.
First, the consensus view is that South Korea and France have had the most successful large scale nuclear build out programs. They had one thing in common. A single reactor design relentlessly improved in each successive installation.
Labor practices and efficiencies also improved with each successive iteration as the labor force became more skilled. In addition, these countries invested considerable sums in infrastructure for fabricating plant parts (like forges), mining, uranium processing, and especially spent-fuel handling and storage.
The May government in the UK appears to neither understand nor appreciate how these strategies contributed to the successes of the French and Korean efforts. It has not laid a framework, either, to bring the employment and technology benefits that come with developing the ancillary services need to maintain the nuclear establishment.
In sum, the May government has no strategy to exploit nuclear power.
The second problem is the plant’s unattractive price tag of £20 billion. The government has guaranteed the owner/builders of Hinkley (EDF and China’s CGN) a generous contract price of £92.50 per MWH for 35 years, of course with adjustments for inflation.
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