The government has backed plans to develop 10 new nuclear power stations. According to Greenpeace these will only cut carbon emissions by 4% by 2025 — too little, too late. Though Greenpeace may not be the most independent source of statistics, I remain hugely sceptical about the wisdom of investing in nuclear fission.
Historically it has been a hugely inefficient source of power, requiring huge financial support from the government to maintain its viability. Though the government claims the costs will not be met by the tax payer, the fact is that we all have to pay for electricity. If nuclear comes to represent 20% of our generating capacity as the government forecasts, that could mean a serious increase in electricity prices. Though the industry claims the new generation of reactors are more efficient, the nuclear industry is already pushing for a government set minimum price for carbon emissions — only when this rises above a certain level does nuclear power become profitable. The higher the price of carbon, the higher the price of power.
They say ‘better the devil you know’, but history shows only failure for nuclear power. The government has invested only miserable sums in alternative energy research — certainly relative to the massive subsidies received by the nuclear industry. Perhaps they might want to consider throwing some big money at alternatives before jumping back in to bed with a very dirty devil.