Adair in Nuclear Wonderland

The 10:10 campaign's Alexis Rowell questions Lord Adair Turner's analysis of the costs of nuclear power.

Nuclear Power

By Alexis Rowell

It was quite extraordinary and utterly surreal to hear the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Adair Turner, on the radio this morning fantasising about nuclear power being a lower cost option that of offshore wind.

A 2009 Citigroup report said (pdf):

“We see very little prospect of [civil nuclear] construction costs falling and every likelihood of them rising further” and “three of the risks faced by developers – construction, power price, and operational – are so large and variable that individually they could each bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially.”

Earlier this year the European commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, confirmed that nuclear power was more expensive than offshore wind. She said:

“Some people tend to believe that nuclear is very, very cheap, but offshore wind is cheaper than nuclear. People should believe that this is very, very cheap.”

In 2008 Ian Jackson wrote in his book “Nukenomics: The commercialisation of Britain’s nuclear industry” that a “fully commercial price would make radioactive waste disposal far too expensive, killing the prospects of any new nuclear build programme in Britain”.

In February 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US released a study showing that nuclear power was not viable and never had been without significant public subsidies. Just lifting the limitation on liabilities (likely to rise in the UK from £700 million to £1.3 billion) would make nuclear power impossible to justify in financial terms.

Calling nuclear power low cost is pure Alice in Wonderland.

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