The Government has issued its policy document 'Long Term Nuclear Energy Strategy' today. Here I 'translate' some key passages to connect it up with reality and to emphasise how, reading between the lines, the Government more or less says that nuclear power is a dead loss. Please note that my translation is in italics.
'the future of nuclear power will depend on it being able to compete effectively against other forms of low carbon electricity generation'. Translation: ' At the moment nuclear new build seems very unlikely. EDF is demanding some jaw-droppingly expensive terms and conditions for building Hinkley C which are way over and above what any government could stomach, let alone one that is cash-strapped and containing Liberal Democrats.
'the size of the nuclear programme will depend on the effectiveness of developers initially being able to build to time and budget, and subsequently being able progressively to reduce costs through experience and economies of scale.' Translation: The nuclear power industry seems incapable of building in anything like the time or costs originally projected, and all the experience so far has proved that the industry is prone to monumental catastophes which have more than neutralised any scope for cost reduction.
'Government challenges the nuclear industry to reduce the levelised costs of new nuclear generation and will work with the Nuclear Industry council and the R&D community to do this'. Translation: The industry had better reduce its costs dramatically, because at the moment it has not got a snowball's chance in hell of doing any building. There's very little chance of doing this really, but to keep the nuclear industry happy and off our backs we will throw them a few nice juicy sops of taxpayers money for R&D and so on. George will let us spend this provided we don't rock the boat too much.
'Nuclear is cost competitive with other generation technologies and in the future it is expected to be the cheapest low-carbon source of electricity, so it can keep bills down and the lights on'. Translation: Nuclear might just about be cost-competitive at the moment with wave power, but very little else, and it is quite possible that even wave power will be more cost-effective that nuclear power in a few years time. But compared to sources like onshore and also offshore wind, and increasingly solar photovoltaics, nuclear is a dead loss. Lots of us at the Department of Energy and Climate Change have been saying that nuclear is the cheapest low-carbon source of energy in the past, but all of these statements are now 'inoperative'. However, we still want to be a bunch of wishful thinkers who firmly believe in the future of nuclear power because we learned this at school and clever people like David Mackay and David King keep telling us that this fairy story will one day come true.
The actual document can be read at: