The simple reason why nuclear power is finished – Dr Richard Nixon

2nd July 2019 | Commercial Energy

Half of Scotland’s nuclear reactors are off-line over safety concerns, but the lights still stayed on, writes Dr Richard Dixon. Nuclear power is the ultimate unsustainable form of energy. For some electricity today, we are leaving a thousand generations of future humans dangerous radioactive waste.

During the 1990s public inquiry into the Hinkley Point C nuclear station, I saw a poster showing a Roman legionary standing outside a nuclear plant and carrying the message “If the Romans had had nuclear power, we would still be guarding the waste.”


I thought it was terribly clever but it took me quite a while to realise that Roman Britain was far too close at hand. To cover the generally accepted 25,000 years, it would need to have referred to Cro-Magnon humans. The politics of Scotland mean that new reactors here are almost unthinkable and the price of the renewable alternatives has fallen so far below the cost of nuclear that you would have to be crazy to go for new nuclear.

Labour’s Jack McConnell was the First Minister who said he would block new nuclear plants until there was a solution to the waste problem (14 years later, there is none). And while it is in the SNP’s DNA to oppose nuclear power. EDF and some unions do still try to lobby Scottish Ministers and official, but to no avail. Meanwhile the industry it doing a great job of showing how terrible a bet nuclear is.

The nuclear industry is almost unique in that every new reactor costs more than the last, while everything else gets cheaper, including offshore wind power which is now coming in at just over half the price of nuclear for a unit of energy. Hinkley Point C, the only nuclear station under construction in the UK, was supposed to be cooking the Christmas turkey in 2017. It is now expected to be producing electricity at the end of 2025 at the earliest. The only way it could be built was for the UK Government to agree that electricity consumers would pay bills well over the odds for the next 35 years.

The same sort of reactor is being built in Finland. It may start producing electricity next year – 11 years late. The other one of the same design is in France and is currently running 12 years late, at twice the original budget.

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