Why the UK nuclear renaissance plan is doomed to failure, in 30 pictures and charts


The UK government’s nuclear power programme will come off the rails because nuclear energy has become uneconomic, the builder of the crucial first reactor faces existential safety and financial threats, …and other reasons.

Image: Construction at Hinkley Point C, screenshot of SomersetLive video

8 comments

  1. Dear Jeremy,
    Thanks for your pics and charts. Splendid.
    I am quite happy you mentioned this subject. I was flabbergasted when I read that the UK starts to built a nuclear power plant. I did not believe my eyes. We know that uranium will be less available, therefore, skyrocketing prices and the fact that to use uranium is a less safety and less efficiency fissing method. The choice to use uranium was to produce atomic weapons.
    There are alternatives like Thorium and further away fusion.
    Unfortunately, a society who choose a Brexit and a government who will whatever it costs to execute the Brexit and nuclear old-fashioned programs are doomed.
    What a shame.

  2. Dear Jeremy Leggett
    Your slidesshow seems to e excellent.
    I would like to translate it into French and put it with your permission on ACDN’s bilingual Website http://www.acdn.net
    Please let me know if you agree.
    Thanks for your answer.
    Best regards.
    Jean-Marie Matagne
    President of ACDN

  3. Spot on! Succinctly put and devastating for the nuclear industry. Pity government ministers still talk about a “low carbon” rather than “renewable” future, because they are so desperate to include nuclear for reasons that look increasingly weird. It’s a huge embarrassment for them that, as the slideshow demonstrates, renewables costs have tumbled to far below those of nuclear!

  4. “…In his 2009 book, The Solar Century, Leggett is critical of nuclear power, saying that it cannot come online quickly enough to mitigate climate change; that the nuclear industry still hasn’t found a way to deal with its radioactive wastes; and that investing in nuclear power would mean less money for other initiatives involving energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy…”

    “…nuclear power,…….cannot come online quickly enough to mitigate climate change…” It would take 9.7 offshore windfarms the size of Moray East Offshore Windfarm [MEOW] to deliver the same amount of intermittent electricity every year as the 24/7 electricity generated by a 3,200 MW nuclear power plant [npp]. They would cost £17.46 billion, occupy an area of 2,862 km^2 and have a hoped-for lifespan of 25 years. A 3,200 MW npp costs £18 billion, sits on a 1.75 km^2 site and has a design life of 60 years.

    So those 9.7 MEOWs would have to be built a 2nd time and be 10 years into the 3rd build to deliver for 60 years. A factor of X2.4 and a cost of £41.9 billion. The reason for this is very simple – wind power uses 11X more materials than nuclear power per unit of electricity generated. Additional to the environmental desecration, ecosystem destruction and species wipe-out from widespread deployment of renewables, is that caused by the wasteful use of precious resources, powered by fossil fuels every step of the way, from mining/quarrying through processing transport, installation,decommissioning and disposal.

    It is societal, political and economical insanity to pay 2.3X more for the delivery of such a destructive and pathetic product that will forever require fossil-fuelled back up.

    “…the nuclear industry still hasn’t found a way to deal with its radioactive wastes…” Many of the author’s slides concentrate on casting doubt on the safety of the nuclear power which, by every single objective measure, is the safest form of electricity generation there has ever been. What Mr Leggett ought to do now, in the interests of fairness, is an article on Gen IV reactors, the first of which will be deployed before a 2nd of the 9.7 MEOWs gets planning permission.

    The ill informed or duplicitous espouse the ‘problem’ of nuclear waste, whilst the energy-literate regard it as a most precious energy resource for, and it will happen in 10 short years, burning as fuel in Gen IV reactors. In the UK, we have enough of this precious resource to provide ALL of our low-carbon energy needs for over 500 years – that’s unparalleled levels of energy security and independence for many generations of our children to come.

    The pick of the Gen IV bunch is Ed Pheil’s Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor [MCSFR] from Elysium Industries. The Emergency Planning Zone [EPZ] is at the boundary fence of its tiny site. It is 100s, if not 1000s of times safer than the safest technology that has ever existed – current npps. The humongous poisonous/radioactive cloud that can ‘wipe out’ families, friends and communities in the blink of an eye will be gone! And the radioactive waste [spent nuclear fuel; weapons grade materials; depleted uranium] that can ‘kill us for 300,000 years’ will transform into the perfect way of powering the planet for 1000s of years without digging another thing out of the ground. The minuscule waste stream from MCSFRs, just 1% of the current volume, decays to the radioactivity level of the ground beneath our feet in only 300 years – easily, cheaply and safely stored.

    You could send Ed Pheil a friends request or message him on facebook, Mr Leggett, to get the latest gen on the MCSFR.

  5. Your statistics are still nonsense. 18 billion pounds to build 3.2 gigawatts of nuclear power? Dream on. And when wind farms in some US states are contracting to provide power at 2 cents per kwh, why would anyone want nuclear power?

  6. How many nuclear power disasters do the planet need to experience before we realize that nuclear power is too expensive (hello Fukishima) and way too dangerous.Yeah, it might give 35-50 years of power, then it will cost many billions of dollars or euros or pounds to make the area not really safe. Screw all future generations. And if you think you can safely close off a radioactive plant for 25,000 years, I have a bridge in New York City to sell you.

    At the highest level, it’s all about jobs for the boys.

  7. Thanks for this excelent power point and to make it available for free.
    It is a information we cannot acquire by ourselves but that we can disseminate.
    Jeep on!

  8. Dear Colin Megson,
    You are comparing apples with peanuts (or how do you say in english?)
    – building costs of nuclear vs. total cost of ownership for wind farms: haven´t you forgotten the significant price tag of operating a nuclear power station for 60 years? Maintenance? fuel rods? upgrades?
    – “hoped for”-technology (to reflect your wording) for nuclear plants and currently available wind power price tags. Don´t you know that prices keep still going down at a steep rate for ALL regenerative energy converters? So your factor of 2.4 is nonsense – in 25 years a MW capacity of a windturbine will be half the price of what it is today. Thats nothing “hoped for” – its plain observation.

    And by the way: Show me a wind farm that MUST be turned of for almost 10% of the operation time each year?

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