Britain aims to lead on nuclear energy
Friday, Jun 15, 2012
As Germany and Japan close their nuclear reactors, Britain wants to be the most attractive country for nuclear power stations. Officials have decided to build two new reactors.
Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendry is fully aware that one reactor can supply five million households with electricity, and with zero emissions.
In an interview with Aftenbladet, he emphasises Britain’s offensive approach to new nuclear power plants.
“Nuclear power was long off the agenda, but was re-launched in 2007 as part of the future energy mix. Five years later, Britain is now perhaps the most exciting place in Europe for nuclear investments,” says Hendry.
He adds that several companies are showing investment interest.
“The key is market reform that creates conditions for such long-term investments. We will remove barriers that may prevent investments. There is strong bipartisan support for further nuclear investment in the UK. Our country’s support is broader than in most others. Parliament recently decided to back development of two new nuclear reactors. 520 representatives voted for, only 20 against,” the British Energy Minister says.
Hendry also says that any new nuclear plants can replace the old power stations in the first years, which have to be closed because of their age.
“All current nuclear power plants, except one, must be closed within 2023. We have pointed out eight places that are appropriate for constructing new ones. A concentrated development such as this could create 16 gigawatts of installed capacity if sufficient commercial interest exists. However, this renewal of nuclear power plants cannot provide us with new electricity production capacity in the short term,” he states.
Investment amounts in new nuclear power plants could be sky-high. According to The Times, each new reactor in the UK could cost GBP 7 billion, or NOK 65 billion.
Compared to power plant construction, investments will be eight to nine times higher. Nevertheless, they have a long lifetime, probably 60 years, operating costs are relatively low, and greenhouse gas emissions are absent.