Britain’s push for nuclear power makes no sense unless it’s a hidden grant to the Royal Navy


Critics have long claimed that the Defense Ministry relies on civilian reactors to generate the tailings of uranium 235 and plutonium 238 needed for nuclear weapons. This is a duck. The UK already has a stock of these fissile isotopes. Sometimes he might need fresh tritium for the warheads because the half-life is short.

“Where rubber really takes the road is in nuclear submarines, and in the future for entirely new battlefield reactors to fuel the pulse of lasers and directed energy weapons,” he said. declared Professor Stirling.

To maintain this military machine, you need specialized skills and a flood of nuclear engineers from universities. “Without civilian nuclear power, the costs become prohibitive,” he said.

We rely on nuclear submarines because they are quiet and difficult to detect in the open sea, or at least they were before drone technology caught up with them. the the transparent ocean – as it is called in naval circles – can make them as vulnerable as battleships of World War II, such as the brand new HMS Prince of Wales sunk almost immediately by Japanese fighter-bombers.

Should we lock ourselves in nuclear power plants that will last until 2080 to support an underwater deterrent that could become obsolete in ten years? I do not know. But let’s beat him in public.

On the strict cost, there is no dispute between nuclear power and renewable energies. The exercise price of Hinkley Point is £ 92.50 per MWh (2012 prices, indexed to inflation). The latest auction for offshore wind on Dogger Bank came in at £ 40 – up from £ 117 in 2015 – and will get cheaper as giant turbines hit 15 megawatts and high-tech blades push the capacity factor to the next level. over 65 pc.

Of course, you never compare as with as with as as. There are other costs, like nuclear too. But even once you add the burden of maintaining natural gas plants to cover variability and winter slump, the latest offshore wind farms are still a lot cheaper. In addition, the cost of storing energy from compressed air is escalating and it can provide backup power for days or weeks.

They also don’t take forever to build. The towers are shipped in packs of six from Hull to the Hornsea field and installed with the blades in one day. The system is put into operation the next day. The power is instantly in people’s homes.

By 2030, it will make sense to over-build offshore wind, harvesting the excess gigawatts to produce green hydrogen on a large scale from electrolysis. It will be used for back-up power, trucks, ships and synthetic zero-jet aviation fuel, as well as steel, cement, chemicals and fertilizers.

The White Paper not only recognizes this, the text proclaims it with passion. That’s why the government aims to quadruple the UK’s offshore wind capacity to 40 GW by the end of the decade, and why the climate change commission wants 75 GW by mid-century. Near-perfect wind flows over the shallow sandbanks of the North Sea give the UK a global competitive advantage.

So why the awkward section on nuclear power and the pledge to sign a £ 20bn Hinkley replica to Sizewell C with EDF under this Parliament when the Chinese CGN has hinted it could withdraw the project? This will leave a gaping hole in the funding. The taxpayer will have to dig deep.

The government says the costs will go down. It is still the field. What we do know is that the two prototype EPR reactors at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland are a decade behind and shockingly over budget, struggling with Sisyphus’ task of trying to meet the security requirements.


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