The UK is sadly getting used to officially sponsored attrition from the truth about nuclear energy. Despite the heightened propaganda, even government data shows that this military-backed technology is, in fact, an expensive, slow, unreliable, risky and unpopular way to deliver affordable, safe and carbon-free energy.
The efficiency and competitiveness gap between nuclear and the other options continues to grow. Supporting nuclear, rather than energy efficiency, wind and solar, slows climate action, bleeds taxpayers, forgoes jobs and imposes unnecessarily heavy and regressive burdens on consumers.
Yet the use of limited public resources for struggling nuclear initiatives continues unabated. The nuclear fuel fund announced Tuesday by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is yet another of countless nozzles pointed variously at research, liability, insurance, training, finance, regulation, planning, non-proliferation, security, waste management, network codes, etc…
A notable feature of this most recent example of a worsening syndrome is that in the opening lines introducing this initiative, BEIS states: “Nuclear is the only reliable, low-carbon form of generation that has been deployed on a large scale to date.
Whichever side is caught in the midst of the complexities, the patent falsity of this unqualified statement is extraordinary. As the government’s own data also shows, variable supply management costs are falling rapidly and are already well below the competitiveness gap between nuclear and renewables. Current renewable contributions to UK electricity far exceed the peak achieved by nuclear.
When did it become acceptable in British public life for a supposedly democratic government to so seriously misrepresent reality in a formal political document?
At a time when the stakes are unprecedented for the climate, the economy, energy security and households in difficulty, it is time to renew the scientific and reasoned democratic debate in this field and to prevent this national self-harm by interests inexplicable particulars.
Professor Andy Stirling
University of Sussex