Nuclear Power – It’s Back?
Nuclear power plants currently provide about 17 percent of the world’s electricity, yet how much of the world’s current and future environmental problems does Nuclear Power contribute to? Nuclear power has both powerful enemies and friends but does the bottom line come down to costs? The December 2005 World Nuclear Association report The New Economics of Nuclear Power states that “Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels”. The need for cheap energy can not be argued when every week price increases are announced from all the gas and electricity suppliers in the UK. The Ukraine recently had their gas supply stopped by Russia, how long is it before this happens to the UK? Do we not need to be self-sufficient when it comes to the generation of power? Can renewable energy not begin to take a larger role in this supply?
The report goes on to say that fuel costs for nuclear plants are a minor proportion of total generating costs, though capital costs are greater than those for coal-fired plants. At the NIA 2006 launch of the Commission’s position paper on the role of nuclear it confirmed “that nuclear is a low carbon technology with an impressive safety record in the UK” and “Nuclear could generate large quantities of electricity, contribute to stabilising CO2 emissions and add to the diversity of the UK’s energy supply.” While we have an impressive record of safety in the UK, Chernobyl has proved that a nuclear accident thousands of miles away can effect the UK for decades to come. The Tsunami also caused problems at Nuclear Power plants around Asia as the plants are built near the sea due to the large amount of water needed to cool the rectors.