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Sunday, November 06, 2005

COST OF POWER GENERATION

I am putting up figures from a Royal Academy of Engineering report on electricty generating costs. This is about as definitive as it gets for recent UK figures. As you will see nuclear comes in 2nd to gas but since this was published gas prices have rocketed so nuclear must be clearly lowest.

Gas Fired 2.2p
Nuclear 2.3p
Coal pulverised 2.5p
Coal fluidised bed 2.6p
Coal gassificatio 3.2p
Poultry guts bio 6.8p
Onshore wind 3.7p with back up generation 5.4p
Offshore wind 5.5p " " " " 7.2p
Wave & narine 6.6p
Note since wind doesn't work when there is little wind, or a lot, back-up is not an optional extra.

I have no doubt that nuclear electricity could be made cheaper, probably very much cheaper if the political will was there. Modern reactors are cheaper & more reliable as most current technology is better than that of the 1960s. Much of the cost is in the construction & in Japan, where building reactors is primarily an engineering problem it takes 4 years, ours are expected to take 10 years, where it is primarily a lawyering problem. We have a regulatory system which vastly increases running costs & which is clearly inspired more by hysteria than a real assessment of risk - nuclear has killed 4 people worldwode since Chernobyl, blacklung & emphysemia caused by acid rain kill 150,000 annually. This cost is also based on expensively decommissioning reactors - the sensible way to do it is to lock them up for 50 years until the radioactivity is down (highly radioactive material has, by definition a short half life) to safe levels at which point there is no problem.

Considering that Help the Aged say we have 24,000 pensioners dying every year from fuel poverty, the equivalent of a Chernobyl every 4 HOURS of the winter months, I believe it is grossly immoral, as well as stupid, to refuse to build reactors.

For more on nuclear see the Professor John McCarthy nuclear FAQs

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