By Dave Elliott
Battles continue over the economic viability of the proposed £18bn Hinkley nuclear project, with EDF still saying it can go ahead, despite the resignation of two key senior executives, opposition from the French trade unions and even doubts now emerging from the French Government. Energy minister Ségolène Royal said: ‘This project must offer further proof that it is well-founded and offer a guarantee that the investment in this project will not dry up investments that must be made in renewable energies.’ It is interesting then that EDF’s recent R&D Paper ‘Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES’, by Alain Burtin and Vera Silva, looks at an EU future dominated by renewables, with nuclear only playing a moderate role, 90GW total.
By Dave Eliott
‘The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO’. So said the official report from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, which labeled the accident as ‘man made’.
To an extent then it shifted the emphasis from the technology to the institutional context. While there is no doubt that the corporate and regulatory framework were at fault, it can also be argued that the basic technology was, and remains, problematic. Nuclear power is clearly an unforgiving technology, intolerant of errors, human or otherwise, with, arguably, the costs and risks outweighing the benefits. Certainly the costs of accidents are large: TEPCO has just doubled its estimate of the clean up/compensation costs for Fukushima to $125 billion, and that leaves out plant decommissioning cost. In many countries around the world, the advantages are increasingly seen to be outweighed by the problems – although the UK seems to be an exception.