According to several sources, including the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune, the British government approved the building of new nuclear plants.
This occurs as nuclear energy is becoming more and more interesting as it is the second lowest greenhouse gases energy solution behind hydro.
This might be for this country the beginning of a move toward a less CO2 intensive electricity, a drastic change from the current situation.
To CARMA (see previous article) British electricity is created by 2 percent hydro, 23 percent nuclear and the remaining 75 percent are provided by thermal power plants. (To le Figaro [Fr], 40 percent is generated by coal fired plants, the most polluting sources of all)
To me, building new plants would be a good thing for the United Kingdom if it works extensively on energy efficiency and behavioural changes. By doing so, the United Kingdom could get nearly a half of its electricity by nuclear.
By also working on renewables, the country could have a 70 percent low carbon electricity by 2020 – with the pledge of 20 percent renewables by 2020 – a complete reversal of the current situation in only 12 years.
To the Financial Times :
A new wave of nuclear power stations was given the green light on Thursday by the government as it said they would be a “safe and affordable” way to secure future energy supplies.
John Hutton, business secretary, said in a statement said that allowing more nuclear reactors would help to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions at a time of growing uncertainty about energy supplies.
However, Mr Hutton was careful to phrase its support for nuclear power as part of the country’s wider “future energy mix”. And he dismissed any idea that it was giving special favours to the industry.
“We are not mandating the use of nuclear power,” said Mr Hutton amid criticism from some Labour backbenchers. “We are not giving planning permission today to new power stations and we are not going to subsidise them.”
I mentioned in an article last April that the French companies Electricité de France (EDF) and Areva might build some of these plants.
EDF is currently building its new generation of nuclear plants with EPR technology. As I was stating earlier, these plants bring several improvements comparing to current ones.
Among them, one can state, to EDF :
(EPR will) reduce chemical and radioactive releases to the environment by at least 30% per kWh during the operating phase (excluding tritium and carbon-14 releases which are equivalent to those of current nuclear power plants per kWh).
There will be an overall drop in the volume of radioactive waste (a 30% decrease for certain waste categories). In order to limit the impact on freshwater intake, a desalination plant is planned for the site.
This 1650-MW reactor (as opposed to 1450 MW for the latest reactor series) consumes 17% less fuel due to the use of more efficient assemblies and higher turbine efficiency.
This improvement, along with refuelling outage times which are 2 to 3 times shorter, will increase annual power output by 36% compared with current reactors.
This news will undoubtedly make happy James Lovelock, the pro-nuclear famous ecologist as nuclear is a very serious clean alternative to coal.
Read my review of James Lovelock’s latest book, the Revenge of Gaïa.
Further reading :
- IHT : British government approves new nuclear power plants.
En Français :