New nuclear power is at the heart of the UK government’s low carbon energy white paper. Private companies have been invited to propose plans to build new reactors which the government said were low-carbon, affordable, dependable and safe.
The official new policy was announced by business and enterprise minister John Hutton: “Set against the challenges of climate change and security of supply, the evidence in support of new nuclear power stations is compelling… I therefore invite energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power stations.”The minister said that nuclear powercould be one aspect of an energy mix, and meeting the climate changechallenge would require the full implementation of a low carbonstrategy that incorporates nuclear energy alongside other low-carbontechnologies.The decision was made after an extended public consultation necessary after previous governments allowed nuclear policy to deteriorate.
The UK government stated clearly and without caveat that nuclear power is low-carbon, affordable, dependable and safe.The country faces an energy gap around 2020 when coal and nuclear power stations accounting for about 30-35 GWe – about one third of generation – must retire. The UK government’s response to this and climate change concerns is an Energy Bill which Hutton said would “drive a greater deployment of renewables and enable investment in carbon capture and storage and offshore gas infrastructure.
These will help build our energy security, reduce emissions and place the UK at the forefront in the development of low carbon energy technology.” It will also see the government take active steps to “open up the way the way” to the construction of new nuclear power stations. However, the government was careful to stress “it will be for energy companies to fund, develop and build new nuclear power stations in the UK, including meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs.”The white paper states that the costs of new nuclear power would be attractive to power companies and investors.
Furthermore the cost of carbon dioxide abatement with nuclar power is GBP0.3 ($0.6) per tonne, compared with the next cheapest, onshore wind, at GBP50 ($98) per tonne.About plannign process lasting five-and-a-half years would now begin under the announced measures, with construction on the first new reactor starting in mid-2013. The estimated power generation cost can be calculated from the white paper to be 3.64p (7.13c) per kWh. Capital cost assumptions are GBP1250 ($2450) per MWh.