Friday, January 27, 2006

Pre-licensing new nuclear power stations - is it in the bag?

The government has already acted on nuclear industry lobbying about 'pre-licensing' nuclear power stations to speed up their construction.

There was talk in the press at the start of the week about this. The Energy Review reveals that Government has already asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide an expert report "to ensure that risks arising from [potential energy developments] are sensibly managed by industry, including ... the potential role of pre-licensing assessments of candidate designs".

This reveals that the Government was aware of this lobbying some time ago, and has already acted on it.

Which in turn speaks volumes about the its revised attitude to nuclear power since the last energy review in 2002.

And Wicks says the Review is impartial? He is in fact already moving the goalposts.

Last summer, Trade Minister Alan Johnson said "By 2020 there will be three nuclear power stations responsible for generating 7 per cent. of electricity, whereas now 12 nuclear stations generate 20 per cent.". But this week in the Guardian Wicks has made the need seem more urgent - "Ten atomic stations, supplying about 18% of Britain's electricity, are due to close by 2020, with the country due to rely on renewable sources but mainly gas imports unless more nuclear plants are built".

Nothing has changed since then - in fact if it's changed at all, the industry itself has indicated that it is finding ways to prolong the lives of existing nuclear power stations in other countries.

Actually, we will probably lose about 12% of generating capacity from nuclear by 2020 - in fourteen years we can surely increase renewables' share to that amount with far less risk.

Here's a nuclear industry association road map" for speeding up nuclear new build. Pride comes before a fall?

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