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Topic Title: The Government should walk away now from the secret Nuclear Power negociations with EdF
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Created On: 07 April 2013 04:22 PM
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 07 April 2013 04:22 PM
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I have just read a story on the Telegraph website

"Olympics chief Lord Deighton to bring nuclear power stations to Britain"

"The man who delivered the Olympic Games to Britain has been brought in by the Government to kick-start negotiations on bringing new nuclear power stations to Britain."

It should be remembered that the Olympics were only delivered successfully, after having tripled the original budget, and slashing the amount of money that should have gone to grass roots sport and legacy building.

The secret government negotiations with EdF now look like they are heading in much the same way. The treasury are obviously getting involved because a overly generous strike price is not enough on its own for EdF to hedge all their risks, and hence give them guaranteed profits in perpetuity.

The cost of the two reactor complex at Hinkley point C is now publicly estimated to be at least 14 Billion. If I triple an earlier estimate for the build costs (£8 Billion), that would give Lord Deighton a maximum "Olympics" style tripled budget of £24 Billion, to play with.

I agree Lord Deighton could get a new 3.2 GW EPR Nuclear complex built for between £14 and £24 Billion. However just because I agree he could do it, doesn't mean I think this is the right or rationally correct thing to do.

A rational basis comes from, a full cost benefit analysis (including an examination opportunities lost), and this depends on a lot of other factors, especially concerning what we don't end up doing in terms of developing new improved and more cost effective nuclear technologies.

You might say that giving an error range for the building costs of between £14 and £24 billion is too large. However we have yet to see a EPR nuclear power station finished, let alone any proper transparency over the costs and how they can escalate if certain critical build operations go wrong like concrete pours etc. So who knows?

As far as I can see it, the only way of pushing significant new money into new innovative nuclear and renewable energy solutions (solar, wind, tidal etc), is to declare the existing third generation nuclear technologies as not fit for purpose, and thus against the long term interest of the nation, in terms of cost, build times, flexibility, the consequences worst case accidents and unresolved waste management issues.

Apparently, according to the Telegraph

"Lord Deighton, the former chief executive of the London Olympic organising committee and a former banker at Goldman Sachs, is seen as a "doer" who can get big projects off the ground."

Well yes the UK does need rebooting, especially in terms of rebuilding its capacity for engineering creativity, engineering skills, infrastructure and supply chains. However we can't do this on the back of over generous government subsidy, and short sighted enthusiasm for expensive and third rate technological solutions of the past.

James Arathoon

James Arathoon
 09 April 2013 01:19 AM
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James, I'm in complete agreement with the main thrust of your post. I think the UK government should look to what has happened in the US with shale gas revolution. A much cheaper solution than new nuclear. However I disagree with the following:
pushing significant new money into nnovative ..renewable energy solutions (solar, wind, tidal etc)

I don't think these hugely expensive, diffuse, intermittent and unreliable sources should have ANY part to play in a modern energy grid. The current policy of forcing them on the public is impoverishing our country and setting us further and further behind competing nations who are building cheap fossil-fuelled power stations in great numbers. And this impoverishment serves absolutely no environmental purpose whatsoever: There has been no global temperature increase this century, no change in the slow rise of sea level for hundreds of years. And zero trend in floods, droughts or hurricanes or tropical storms. It is complete madness to base energy policy on the increasingly discredited junk science of catastrophic man-made global warming.

The CO2-driven madness of UK energy policy is perhaps best illustrated by the travesty of 'biomass' (burning trees for fuel). The UK gov have mandated that a forest the size of Wales be felled every year to be inefficiently burnt in Drax and various other converted power stations. How can it possibly be 'environmentally friendly' to fell forests in North and South America - killing all the associated wildlife - then to ship the resulting low energy density firewood half way round the world to burn in Drax? All to meet some daft back-of-an-envelope EU target for 'renewable' energy generation. Absolute madness.

Edited: 09 April 2013 at 01:47 AM by Ipayyoursalary
 09 April 2013 11:55 AM
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Every country is different in its climate and its geography. Different energy solutions are applicable for different places. Solar microgrid solutions (solar with packaged some sort local and relaible storage) are great for rural india and africa etc, but will be of limited use in the uk due to our climate.

Building stuff for export creates jobs in the uk; as long as we learn to build cheap and reliable enough hardware again to compete on the international markets.

The government should not give subsidies to hide the cost of expensive products (like third generation nuclear), it should give research and development grants and tax credits (in open competition) to help bring down the real production costs of products to levels where they become globally competitive with other internationally sourced solutions.

Specifically I believe the Government should help to support industrial research and development in the field of energy generation and supply in this way (its a very expensive and resource intensive activity, but will bring great benefits to the world when we find the right new generation technologies).

Like you I don't believe the government should try to roll out technologies prematurely by showering them with subsidies to artificially pick winners in the short term, at great long term cost to the consumer and tax payer.

I am also concerned about a wholesale shift to biomass, without thinking through the consequences. Perhaps if we can start growing biomass in the north african deserts, then my concern on this will reduce. But whether this could be done economically and without envirnmental damage is not yet known. Bioengineering advances seem to be happening month by month now, so who knows.

Lots of people have given up on nuclear power, because they see it as a dead end wasteful and dangerous technology heavily linked to the manufacture of nuclear weapons. In many ways I don't blame them.

However I have always believed that it is the current nuclear leadership that needs changing, rather than nuclear power (in new technological forms) being abanoned for good. By failed nuclear leadership I include Mark Higson at DECC, the current leadership of the NNL and the NDA; they all need to move on to jobs (or retire) where they can't do as much damage to the country as they are doing now!

Although I think we (the uk) should be developing new nuclear technologies that work better, safer and with much less waste than before; I don't think nuclear power will be appropriate for all countries, especially if they get lots of sun.

But the uk is too far north to reliably generate electricity from the sun even in the summer months. Storage solutions might eventually help to back up the grid for a few hours, but I doubt we will ever be able to cost effectively to back up the whole grid, in the winter, when the wind stops for several days at a time.

James Arathoon

James Arathoon
 09 April 2013 05:46 PM
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I hope the latest solution when the wind stops, using green frog around the UK not paid for via increased revenue from pensioners and those who now can hardly afford the electricity cost as it is. I hope the wind turbine operators are paying for it out of their massive subsidies. However, fair play to a company who has seen the flaw in wind generation and jumped in, but diesel generation is that green.

Meanwhile America gas is now so cheap they are attracting manufacturing firms and creating jobs due the cheap energy.

Edited: 09 April 2013 at 08:35 PM by jcm256
 09 April 2013 10:35 PM
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To answer your question jcm: No, wind farm operators are not responsible for providing any backup for the intermittency of their output. On the contrary, if a storm blows up in the night and the grid is unable to accept their output, they are actually paid to shut down. For example:
Wind farm operators in Scotland were paid nearly £900,000 to keep their turbines idle for a night because the National Grid did not need the power. The payments, up to 20 times the value of the power the wind farms would have produced, were offered by the National Grid because it urgently needed to reduce electricity entering the system.

These ridiculous shutdown payments and the huge costs of providing 100% backup for low wind periods are met by additional Grid charges and by artificially inflating energy prices with 'contracts for difference' and various other market rigging mechanisms dreamt up by the DECC eco-taliban. Of course all these costs get passed straight on to consumer's bills where they are misleadingly labelled 'delivery' or 'grid upgrade' charges when, in fact, they are yet another completely unnecessary green tax and subsidy for the parasitic 'ruinables' industry.

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