Friday, May 25, 2007

Responding to the nuclear new build consultation

If you want to object to the support for new nuclear power stations made in the Government's new Energy White Paper, you might wish to do so on the basis of the following assumptions it makes.

There is a key point in the discussion on nuclear power where it says that the Government has modelled different future scenarios as part of the Energy White Paper.

"The modelling indicates that it might be possible under certain assumptions, to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 without new nuclear power stations." However, it says, "if we were to plan on this basis, we would be in danger of not meeting our policy goals" of security of supply and cost-effectively reducing carbon emissions. (See Chapter 5 page 194-5.)

The choice is therefore to be made on economic grounds alone. However, the economics of nuclear are calculated as making sense with a price for carbon of at least €36 per tonne. Is this feasible? In May investment bank UBS said it thought the price will reach €30 in 2008.

If you want to challenge the government you have to come up with persuasive figures.

The models:

> The UK MARKAL model in the 2007 Energy White Paper
> Final Report on DTI-DEFRA Scenarios and Sensitivities using the UK MARKAL and MARKAL-Macro Energy System Models

Siting and waste

A number of sites for new power stations are proposed in the south of England including Brighton and Oxford. This was inevitable after the new Scottish Assembly ruled out nuclear power stations in Scotland. I can't really see Brighton saying yes, can you?

As for the nuclear waste legacy resulting from new build, a report from the NRA published with the White Paper estimates a required increase in the country's nuclear waste storage needs of half as much again. The NRA thinks this is "not much".

The go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power plants to replace the 18% of electric power the old ones provide, required by 2023, includes a consultation on how applications should be made. The accompanying proposed planning regime changes announced by Ruth Kelly are intended to speed up the planning permissions process.

None of this guarantees the building of a single new power station.

How to take part

A series of meetings will be held, advertised on the DTI website. The invited public will be demographically representative of the UK population through direct approaches to random homes on selected electoral registers. NGOs, industry, local authorities and many other organisations will be invited to send representatives to meetings to explore their views. The documents are on the following web sites:
> The Energy White Paper
> The nuclear consultation
> Consultation on consumer electronics standards

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