Boris Johnson’s green revolution falling apart as nuclear ‘expensive and not viable’

EU face backlash over labelling 'green energy sources'

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Nuclear energy forms an essential part of the UK Government’s strategy to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. Mr Johnson’s Government has also noted that the current gas crisis has highlighted the need to reduce its reliance on expensive, foreign sources of natural gas and generate more on domestic sources of electricity like nuclear.

According to the 2020 Energy White Paper, the government plans to transition away from fossil fuels and replace them with “renewables, nuclear and hydrogen”.

Professor Molly Scott-Cato, a former Green MEP and an economist criticised governments that are trying to build new nuclear capabilities to get to net zero.

She said: “There are various reasons why I, along with all Greens, don’t support nuclear power.

“The biggest one at the moment is that it’s too expensive and too slow to tackle the climate emergency.”

“On nuclear, it doesn’t help us move forward on the transition, particularly new-build nuclear.

“I think the way to tackle nuclear is more through the state aid regime because nuclear isn’t viable without public money. That’s another reason why I object to it.

According to the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, new wind and solar generators have become competitive against nuclear energy in terms of cost scale since 2019.

The report also found that since 2009, the average construction time for reactors worldwide was just under 10 years.

Mycle Schneider, lead author of the report said: “Stabilising the climate is urgent, nuclear power is slow.

“It meets no technical or operational need that low-carbon competitors cannot meet better, cheaper and faster.”

Professor Scott-Cato agreed with this, saying: “Onshore and offshore wind are more competitive now with fossil fuels. But nuclear power is far more expensive.”

She believes that if nuclear projects were to rely on private investment and not receive public subsidies, “then it will disappear because it is not viable without that.”

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Currently, gas provides about 40 percent of the UK’s electricity, followed by wind power at 20 percent, nuclear about 16 percent, and solar 4 percent.

Most recently, UK regulators approved a Chinese-designed nuclear reactor set to be constructed in southeast England.

In a statement announcing the approval, Saffron Price Finnerty, Nuclear Regulation Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “De-carbonising energy supplies is a key objective for the UK and nuclear power is an important part of Government’s energy policy to deliver a net-zero future.”

WNISR report also found that nuclear energy is extremely expensive.

The cost of generating solar power ranges from £27 to £32 per megawatt-hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at £21- £41 per MWh.

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