Green Gone

UK chancellor George Osborne made his Autumn spending statement on Wednesday 25th November. To a large extent he chose to kick the economic can down the road once more. But the published documentation has this most interesting section on Energy Policy [1]:

1.201 The government will prioritise energy security, whilst making reforms to meet our climate goals at lower cost. The government is doubling spend on energy innovation, to boost energy security and bring down the costs of decarbonisation.
1.202 As part of this, the Spending Review and Autumn Statement invests at least £250 million over the next 5 years in an ambitious nuclear research and development programme that will revive the UK’s nuclear expertise and position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies. This will include a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor design for the UK. This will pave the way towards building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the UK in the 2020s. Detailed plans for the competition will be brought forward early next year.

There’s more so read on….

1.203 The government will provide an exemption for Energy Intensive Industries, including the steel industry, from the policy costs of the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariffs, to ensure that they have long-term certainty and remain competitive.
1.204 The government will increase funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive to £1.15 billion by 2020-21, while reforming the scheme to deliver better value for money. By the end of the Parliament the government expects to have incentivised enough additional renewable heat to warm the equivalent of over 500,000 homes.
1.205 The government will also continue to make the most of domestic resources and manage our energy legacy safely and responsibly. The government will commit up to 10% of shale gas tax revenues to a Shale Wealth Fund, which could deliver up to £1 billion of investment in local communities hosting shale gas developments, in the north of England and other shale-producing regions. It will also give the Oil and Gas Authority additional powers to scrutinise companies’ offshore decommissioning plans and take action to ensure they represent value for money.

One additional measure not mentioned in the documentation is the scrapping of the £1billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) fantasy fund as reported by the FT [2].

A £1bn pot of money for a flagship programme to combat climate change has been scrapped in the government’s spending review, stunning companies that have spent years preparing bids for the funds.

The move spells the death knell for a four-year-old contest to build carbon capture and storage systems on power plants and comes just days before Prime Minister David Cameron joins more than 130 world leaders in Paris for a UN conference on a new global climate change accord.


There is a lot to like about this. Prioritising energy security and affordability above climate goals is one measure I have long advocated and therefore strongly support [3]. I have also long advocated nuclear power as the most rational solution to secure, affordable and low carbon generation [3]. Exploring the options for small modular nuclear has the hall mark of Owen Paterson stamped upon it [4]. I would like to know how this money is to be spent and wonder if I could perhaps have some of it?

I will skip over the bit about FITs and ROCs. Suffice to say that I would quite like an exemption too since blogging is incredibly energy intensive. If industry is not to pay FITs and ROCs – who is going to pick up their bill?

One aspect of physics made in Without Hot Air that was highly virtuous was the energy efficiency gains made from electrification and in particular electric heat pumps [5] . Supporting renewable heat is therefore eminently sensible. It is one of the very few areas where physics appears to give you something for nothing.

Bribing the Northern Power House to accept shale drilling is a strategy that may back fire. The Chancellor should be advised to apply the levy to turnover and not to profit since the latter may never come into being [6]. Readers of this blog will know I am rather sceptical about shale gas in the UK, one reason being, if you roll out 30GW of nuclear then you won’t need it. And I remain unconvinced that rural England will tolerate the industrial scale drilling involved. But what must be prioritised is exploration and appraisal drilling to find out if we have a rich resource or not. At that point we can have a debate about the future.

Getting rid of the insane CCS competition wins the coconut for best policy [7]. One casualty here, however, is that EOR (enhanced oil recovery) may become collateral damage. Flooding oil reservoirs with CO2 is a very good and proven technology. The CO2 does not have to come from CCS. The government, and the new oil and gas authority really ought to properly evaluate this technology that offers a real prospect of significantly boosting UK oil reserves and production. But of course, not at $50 / bbl.

I’ll give George 8 out of 10 for this. Some of the policies do not seem to be properly thought through. We appear to be at an interesting cross roads where many of the Green actors are still in place but 18th century Green Thinking has been replaced by 21st century energy policy. I imagine that the cast will be replaced over time.


Roger suggested I should also work in Amber Rudd’s speech of 18th November. I’ve had a look and it’s not all bad but I find that it lacks the clarity of Osborne’s new direction. The lady needs some better advice that I may just offer.

[2] The Financial Times £1bn carbon capture storage funds scrapped
[3] Energy Matters Energy Matters’ 2050 pathway for the UK
[4] Energy Matters Keeping the Lights On
[5] David MacKay Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air
[6] Energy matters What is the real cost of shale gas? (the most read article on this blog with 22,495 reads to date)
[7] Energy matters Carbon Capture and Storage and 1984

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51 Responses to Green Gone

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Reality is finally starting to bite.
    Countries with large deficits should not be throwing away money on Green Boondoggles.
    If this stuff was any good market forces would have brought it in to being and it would not need massive subsidies from governments.

    • oldfossil says:

      Naturally one day solar and wind will be competitive with FF energy–today’s FF energy. In the meantime FF efficiency will also have evolved and renewable will still be playing catch-up.

  2. Euan Mearns says:

    I just read Amber Rudd’s speech in more detail. Given that she has a degree in history and a career in finance I think its safe to say she wrote little of this speech her self and that it was written for her by DECC. It basically sounds little different to Ed Davey.

    • Euan: I have to disagree with you there. I don’t think Rudd would have given a speech like that without high-level approval – altogether too politically charged. And I somehow don’t see Ed Davey saying this:

      We also want intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine. Only when different technologies face their full costs can we achieve a more competitive market.

      I’m surprised this statement hasn’t attracted more attention because if this is now official government policy wind and solar are dead in the water.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Thanks Roger, I missed that. Its another one of my policies 😉 Does that mean owners of solar PV will have to buy a Power wall? The trouble is of course if we are mandated to have so much renewables on the grid and wind farm owners are mandated to own gas turbines or shares in them, and everyone is entitled to 10% profit then prices will go up (I think).

        • Euan: I’m not sure how this would work out in practice, but I know what my solution would be. Wind & solar generators can sell as much power to the grid as they want so long as it’s dispatchable.

          • Jacob says:

            “Wind & solar generators can sell as much power to the grid as they want …”

            At market price, and without forcing utilities to buy every “green” kWh produced.

          • PhilH says:

            If by “dispatchable” is meant can be called upon to generate or not generate upon demand rather than generate all the time, is the same requirement to be applied to nuclear? And what will enforced dispatchability do to nuclear’s economics if it substantially reduces its load factor?

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Nuclear can be called upon to supply continuous base load, which all grids need. It makes little sense to cycle nuclear (the steam generation side of the plant).

  3. RDG says:

    “This will include a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor design for the UK”

    Meaning none of the designs already on the table are any good.

  4. Rob Slightam says:

    250m does not sound much but I suppose it is a start

  5. garethbeer says:

    Good commentary Re Tidal Lagoon in Swansea –

    There clearly isn’t a business case, just a bunch of troughers going oink oink waiting to gobble…

    More so, this isn’t the pinnacle of ‘tech’ throwing bolders into the sea & attaching turbines in the sea…

    • Euan Mearns says:

      With exception of solar PV that is tech, all the rest is 19th century windmills and water wheels scaled up, built of expensive materials in a quest to make it survive the elements they are trying to exploit.

  6. garethbeer says:

    I can see a full reversal of subsidies in the (near) future, as rightly, renewables will be skinned and some money returned to HM treasury.

    • PhilH says:

      Is this skinning / taxing to include those in fuel poverty who have been provided with PV installations by their social housing association to reduce their fuel bills?

  7. Is the tide turning? Will magical thinking re warm fuzzy renewables be replaced by rational analysis and analysis based on solid facts?

    This is one of the very few optimistic articles about energy options that I have read for many months.

    I particularly like the honest simplicity of Roger’s comment “Wind & solar generators can sell as much power to the grid as they want so long as it’s dispatchable.”

  8. edmh says:

    Renewable Energy: just run the numbers.

    For analysis of Renewable Energy performance and capacity factors quoted by Renewable Energy industry sources across Europe and see:

    These capital and running cost comparisons strip out all the positive profitability effects of government regulation and subsidies that are being applied to Renewable Energy, those being the only things that still make Renewables a viable business proposition.

    Accounting for the capacity factors, (the actual electrical output as compared to the Nameplate capacity of European Renewable installations is about 18% overall), as they are reported by the Renewable Industry, and combined with comparative costings from the US government Energy Information Administration, the overall capital cost of all European Renewable Energy installations (Solar and Wind Power) averages out at about €29billion / Gigawatt.

    This amounts to at least 29 times the cost of a conventional gas-fired installation at about €1billion / Gigawatt.

    That overall capital value accounting for the capacity factor applicable to Renewables at €29billion / Gigawatt is derived from the combination of:

    Onshore Windpower ~€14.2 billion/GW
    Offshore Windpower ~€41.4 billion/GW
    On Grid Solar Power ~€48.5 billion/GW

    According to Renewable Energy supporting sources by 2014 European Union countries had invested approximately €1 trillion, €1,000,000,000,000, in large scale Renewable Energy installations. This may well be an underestimate.

    This expenditure has provided a nameplate electrical generating capacity of about 216 Gigawatts, nominally about ~22% of the total European generation needs of some 1000 Gigawatts.

    But the actual measured output by 2014 reported by the Renewable Energy Industry sources has been equivalent to 38 Gigawatts or ~3.8% of Europe’s electricity requirement.

    Accordingly the whole 1000 Gigawatt fleet of European electricity generation installations could have been replaced with dispatchable, lower capital cost Gas-fired installations for the €1trillion of capital costs already expended on Renewable Energy in Europe.

    However Renewable Energy production is dependent on the seasons, local weather conditions and the rotation of the earth, day and night. The Renewable Energy contribution to the electricity supply grid is inevitably erratic, intermittent and non-dispatchable, (not necessarily available when needed). Renewable Energy is therefore much less useful than dispatchable sources of electricity, which can be engaged whenever necessary to match demand and maintain grid stability.

    So that 3.8% Renewable Energy contribution to the grid is often not available when needed and obversely its mandatory use and feed-in obligations can cause major grid disruption if the Renewable Energy contribution is suddenly over abundant.

    The Renewable Energy industry could not exist without the Government mandated subsidies and preferential tariffs on which it depends. Therefore it never be a truly viable business proposition

    Viewed from the point of view of the engineering viability of a nation’s electrical grid, Renewable Energy would never be part of the generating mix without its Government mandate and Government market interference.

    The burden of these additional Renewable costs is both imposed on consumers via the increase in their utility bills and the cost hugely damages the viability of European industries.

    So the Green thinking especially in the UK in its enthusiasm to save the world from an indefinable but probably minimal threat in the distant future, will destroy Western civilisation long before the world fails from excessive overheating from CO2 emissions.




  9. Phil Chapman says:

    A small query: When I was growing up (lo, these many moons ago) in the Terra Australis colony, one billion meant 10^12. Has the UK officially accepted the US definition?

  10. “Readers of this blog will know I am rather sceptical about shale gas in the UK, one reason being, if you roll out 30GW of nuclear then you won’t need it.”

    I do not necessarily agree here. Heating requirements will remain significantly in the natural gas territory for quite some time due to the costs associated with heat pumps.

    • Leo Smith says:

      I also think likewise. Nuclear is great for baseload, but to cover peaking demand you need to have plant which has lower capital cost, even if fuel costs are higher. In essence that means gas.

      The nuclear:gas optimal ratio depends on the relative capital, fuel, operational and maintenance costs of the two technologies.

      And a little bit on what other stuff is on the grid like hydro and pumped.

      What comes through to me, about this government initiative, is that the realities of power density and intermittency are finally being understood, and although there is lip service to renewables that don’t really deliver – like wind and solar – there is a get out of jail free card – they must be ‘cost effective’ and pay for their grid and balancing costs. This is neat and subtle, and reflects something that I and others have said is a political solution of the dirtiest. Keep the promised subsidies but tax them and require them to pay proper costs.

      That drives renewables out economically, whilst the government washes its hands and says ‘well pound for pound fracked gas does more, and so does nuclear’.

      Since the whole case against them is, that they are not and never will be economic, its a neat extension of the previous Tory position that ‘we like windmills, just not here’.


    • Euan Mearns says:

      I’m not suggesting we should not use gas and CCGTs, but that the gas does not have to be UK shale gas. A sensible strategy is to move towards electrification of heating. The amount of gas required to follow UK variable load is “not that much”. North sea gas will chug along for a few decades yet. Production will rise with new west of Shetland fields coming on and it is permissible to import some LNG etc.

      My scepticism about shale gas is 1) we haven’t yet proven that we have any and 2) if we do, I’d be very concerned that the Green Blob does everything they can to prevent its development. Just doesn’t sound like a secure energy option to me.

      If you read Amber’s opus she is suggesting coal be replaced by gas – I don’t know who dreams up this drivel.

      • Ok. Certainly following Amber is not clever…

        That said I do think that heating electric changeover will take longer especially given the apparent reticence over the nuclear changeover. that said why we cannot learn a 40 year old French lesson is beyond me.

      • If have been thinking ore about this.

        The timeline for getting us of natural gas heating and peaking is going to be reasonably long. Even the French took time to roll out.

        If we were to follow a nuke heavy strategy, we are probably looking at twenty years and this is only to get electrical needs. SME’s will probably take 5-10 years so perhaps they could impact heating requirement but lets be honest, that is the poor mans market.

        Thus I do not see what a fracking industry could not at least be explored. Time wise, there does not seem to be much against it and otherwise, we simple will continue to expand our Arab gas market.

  11. Fred Starr says:

    Dear Euan

    Do not weep for the loss of EOR using CO2. It was never practical for North Sea Oil and has significant drawbacks.

    CO2 for EOR does not simply rely on driving the oil towards the well head. Its principal advantage is that by saturating a heavy oil with CO2 it reduces the viscosity. However to this mean drilling a large number of “wells”. into the trapped formation and allowing the CO2 to diffuse into the oil.

    This is practical on land but not at sea.

    A further disadvantage is that the oil, when it does eventually appear at the surface, the CO2 will out gas. Back into the atmosphere!

  12. jJack Ponton says:

    I am very sceptical about heating by electricity, which could only be economic, as you say, with heatpumps. It’s not just capital cost. They are only really feasible for new build. In an existing building they require ripping up all your floors to install a large area of low temperature heater.

    Many properties will not be able to have a ground or water source. Air source heat pumps in the winter will have a very low CoP; it would certainly not make sense for these to use gas generated electricity.

    On paying for intermittency, wind ‘farm’ operators are talking about installing backup diesel generators. So much for green. For solar, a Powerwall can solve the problem of overnight supply but there is no storage technology anywhere that would cope with the real problem which is the 5:1 performance difference between summer and winter.

  13. garethbeer says:

    Afaiik, new Gas boilers run at approx 90% efficiency, give or take a few leaks here or there getting the gas to the house or business. A modern efficient way to heat a house.

    On the other hand, CCGT’s run at 40 (up and down like yo yo’s to load follow wind, solar & demand) to 65% efficiency, plus transmission losses over the Grid, cannot be efficient to have ‘electric’ heating surely?

    District heating (from the power stations, all of a sudden 80-90% efficiency) anyone?

    • gweberbv says:


      a heating system with an electric heat pump can reach up to a CoP of 5 averaged over the year. So, from 1 kWh electricity input you earn 5 kWh heat output. However, if the heating system is not optimized for using a heat pump plus you use air as a reservoir, the COP can also drop down to maybe 2.

      However, to operate a heat pump under reasonable conditions, you basicly need a modern or modernized building. But then the demand for heat is much lower compared to the ‘standard’ building. And if your demand is very low, for the bigger picture it does no play role if you use coal, gas electricity or Picasso paintings for heating.

      Bottom line: Heat pumps are nice. But spending money for insulation makes much more sense (talking about the average building with the last major refurbishment more than 25 years in the past).

    • Leo Smith says:

      At the point I considered it a heatpump running off nuclear generated electricity was almost competitive with oil at 65p a litre..more than gas was at that time, and more than oil is now.

      If nuclear electricity at 4-5p a unit was available it makes sense at today’s prices for new builds, but not for retrofit.

      The problems are three fold.

      1/. Its hard to get a huge temperature increase so the output is ‘warm’ rather than ‘hot’ water, which means much larger radiator areas or UFH and the like.

      2/. Likewise DHW temps are not high enough to meet health and safety bactericidal ratings. You need direct immersion to top it up. That’s not a huge issue though.

      3/. Electricity supplies need to be uprated. You may need 15KW continuous just for winter peak heating alone, and switch on surges can trip many existing circuits.

      What this means is that for a new build where all this can be built in at not much extra opportunity cost – yea even unto underground pipes laid for heat exchangers – heat pumps can be nearly cost competitive with fossil heating.

      But there is also the cost of upgrading the grid to take the extra demand.

      Heat pumps are a case of a technology that does actually work, but whose economic viability depends on marginal cost differences between electricity and fossil fuel and in the cost of the technology itself. I would expect to see it first of all in upmarket new builds and commercial premises – it makes a lot of sense for e.g a supermarket where a large car park can be used as the ground source, soaking up summer sun, and being used as a possible dump for summer aircon, which then represents a reasonable thermal store for winter heating.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Leo, some time ago I recall you saying that enough heat could be stored in xm^3 hot water stored below a house. Would you care to lay out the calculation and how this might be a feasible way to store surplus RE.

        • Leo Smith says:

          Sure thing Euan.

          Typical floor plan of small house – say 8 x 8 meters

          Let’s assume a meter of depth below it excavated to form a thermal store, lined with polystyrene and reinforced concrete, and probably capped as well.

          That’s 64 cubic meters.

          Now for temperature. To suit a typical CH and DHW situation we probably don’t want that water to go below 60C, and we probably have an upper limit of 90C before it boils.

          That gives us 30°C usable ΔT.

          So the total storage is 64 x 30 x 4.2 x 10^6 joules = 8064 MJ = 2240 kWh

          Or at 10p a unit, £224 worth of electricity..

          It’s worthwhile looking at a typical modern well insulated house with a U value of – say – 0.3, that is a 8metre square 4 meter high cube.

          Total surface area is 64 x2 + 4 x 32 = 256 sq meters

          @0.3 U value, and ΔT around 15°C total heat loss would be 256 x 0.3 x15 = 1.152 kilowatts and our heat bank would last a shade under 2000 hours.

          Now this is absolutely enough to use night storage electricity for daytime heating even in inefficiently insulated houses.

          This is as you can appreciate 64 tonnes of water. That’s a helluva mass. And you can dig a deeper tank.

          It MAY be almost enough to store summer electricity from solar panels for winter heating, but there the actual heat-loss of the heat-bank itself is an issue.

          However the idea scales well. At a given U value , the bigger the tank, the less percentage loss there is and the surface area goes up as the square, whilst the storage goes up as the cube, of the linear size.

          Which is why the earth is still hot from its formation, as well as from nuclear decay.

          So in terms of space heating, large heat banks are an excellent way of adding ‘capacitance’ – or storage – locally, to a power network. We can store large amounts cheaply and efficiently for long periods of time.

          What we cannot do is turn it back into electricity efficiently. 30°C usable ΔT at 280°K gives a conversion efficiency of less than 10%.

          Which is why you hear talk of molten salt heat-banks operating up at 600°C or more.

          However there the technology ceases to be simple and cheap and within the abilities of any general builder.

          Personally I dont see this solution being a huge amount of use for intermittent renewable energy, because by and large space heating is not the main user of electricity, and its more expensive than fossil fuels.

          BUT it has tremendous traction for a nuclear grid where overnight electricity is at rock bottom prices : you may not be able to smooth out seasonal variations in demand, but you could absolutely use this in a smart grid situation to clip peak demand and fill in times of low demand. Let’s face it, if you have a weeks worth of heat in the bank, you can charge it only when there is surplus.

          And there is a possibility of using a heat-pump to charge it with, up to a point anyway. That might pull the electricity costs down even further.

          Note that also the heat-bank doesn’t have to be water either. It could be concrete, or even the soil that you excavated to make the bank, but a liquid tends to be easier as convection spreads the heat quickly, and it can be drained if the heat exchanger needs maintenance.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Thanks Leo. Where 4.2*10^6 is the specific heat capacity of a tonne of water. So this works alongside wet, gas central heating like most of us have in the UK and it requires steep discounting of electricity either at night or when it is windy. I think solar should simply be used when it is generated.

            It sounds like 64 m^3 is a huge amount, especially to cover the diurnal cycle and that something like 2 m^3 could do that job. 63 as opposed to 2000 hours. Its simply an upscaled and more sophisticated version of storage heaters with bricks in them. My Mum used to have these and I think they were useless. Simply nothing close to enough mass. 2 m^3 is size of small garden shed and easily retrofitted to existing properties. So someone must be doing this already. Its so simple, and “solves” the storage problem. I think Gunther has mentioned schemes like this in Germany.

            Can you embellish this with cost comparisons between gas and electric wet storage? And why would you use a heat exchanger and not simply circulate directly from the store?

          • Günter Weber says:


            there are schemes like that on the market in Germany. Even more sophisticated using material that have a phase-transition (allowing for storing more energy in less material and with less temperature difference). But the costs are immense, so this is just for the fun of a few (energy) autarchy maniacs.
            An insulated storage tank for a few hundred liters costs a few hundred bugs. Now think about converting your whole basement into and such a thing.

            Another comment to Leo’s scheme: Heat pumps are suffering if the temperature difference between the source and the target temperature is too high. Thus, to reach a high CoP value the heating system should target for temperatures below 40 degree. And you definitely would not have much fun with a heat pump generating 90 degree hot water (for the storage tank).

  14. RDG says:

    If you can’t build a better battery than why delude yourselves with something more difficult and capital intense like nuclear reactors? 50 million a year for nuke design amounts to little more than paper reactors that don’t work. Another 5 years down the drain on fantasies, then what?

    There is no alternative to fossil fuels. Either you are gaining access to more oil through economic strength (not financialization) or you are going broke. Nukes are a trojan horse. The poor country gets a nuke and has to give up everything else. So far, the UK is close to being that “poor country”. Be careful for what you wish for.

    The fantasy that oil doesn’t matter due to innovation is backwards. The “innovation” (read renewable junk fantasies) is a racket to get the oil.

    Nukes and renewables are in the same category: JUNK. Its the oil that matters.

    • oldfossil says:

      Hi-tech has a high multiplier effect on GDP. Because hi-tech manufacturing typically requires several stages it drives up GDP by many times the final cost of each component. As technology matures, manufacturing is simplified in the interest of cost reduction and the multiplier effect drops. In addition it creates a pool of skilled people who are continually drifting off into other industries, adding skill and productivity. The UK should build a space rocket. Even if the damn thing never got off the ground it would boost the economy tremendously.

  15. climanrecon says:

    The extensive gas network in the UK probably means that heat pumps (and biomass) will only be niche heat producers for a long while, unless of course those Lib Dems or Greens get their hands on the Energy portfolio again.

    Shale gas may well be insignificant in energy terms, but the UK can’t turn its nose up at the moolah that will be generated, to allow us to keep buying Parmesan at reasonable prices.

    • John Eardley says:

      Shale gas energy insignificant? It’s a mile deep at Blackpool. Let’s drill appraisals first at least before you dismiss it.

  16. gweberbv says:

    What is business case for ‘small, modular’ nuclear reactors? And what can you get for 250 millions when developing a new car model easily costs more?

  17. John eardley says:

    Rolls Royce already designs small nuclear reactors for subs. The PWR3 20MW reactor is currently being developed for the new Trident boats at a cost of £3Billion and the £250 million extra is to look at making them for civilian use.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I think RR are the only vendor of modular nuclear in the UK. Perhaps Europe. So its going to be an exciting competition. Also a company that has hit hard times.

  18. oldfossil says:

    For those of us who are not UK residents an explanation of your acronyms would have come in handy. I googled ROC here and #15 on the list was Renewable Obligation Certificates. I couldn’t find a plausible answer for FIT.

  19. Leo Smith says:

    Nukes and renewables are NOT in the same category. If they were I wouold agree with you.

    The problems of renewables are inherent in the technology, its power density, its generation capacity factor and time profile and lack of storage. These are problems that we cannot overcome – they are inherent in the energy source itself.

    Nuclear is completely different., The problems of nuclear power are ultimately all easily soluble at a very low cost, except that the public PERCEPTION of nuclear power, and the historical association of it with danger that it doesn’t represent, means that it is the most safety conscious and over regulated industry in the whole world. Its costs are 80% regulatory costs – let’s face it a big steel vessel in a lump of concrete coupled to a steam turbine is hardly different from a gas or coal fired station.#

    And this is the logic behind SMRs (Small modular reactors) – the hope is that factory built units which have type approval can circumvent the massive delays and costs associated with getting approval for a one-of-a-kind reactor and power station builds – a process that can take a decade and costs billions.

    There is no real justification for SMRs beyond this. They are a technical solution to a bureaucratic and regulatory problem.

    They dont exist right now because nuclear development has been driven by efficiency and performance and real safety, not the the need to meet over-regulation.

    Post Fukushima and with the Green tinge in full cry scenting blood, there is a need to come up with a politically acceptable solution, not just a technically viable one.

    Fossil isn’t finished yet, but there is a limited amount of it there, and its not going to get any easier to extract. And there’s even less of it under our feet here, so nuclear – and spending a little money on research into it – is a good covering bet.

    Renewables can be shown to be impossible to make economic. Nuclear can be shown to be profoundly economic. The problems or renewables are inherent to the technology. The problems of nuclear are mostly all in the mind.

    • A C Osborn says:

      “Fossil isn’t finished yet, but there is a limited amount of it there, and its not going to get any easier to extract. And there’s even less of it under our feet here”
      Not if you are talking about the UK, there is a massive amount of Coal.
      So it is the Political will and economics that are stopping it’s extraction and use

      • RDG says:

        But all that coal is going to the far east. Now you know why the climate change bull favors renewable junk. Pull the curtain aside and there must be insolvency.

        Too broke to develop coal…too broke to develop nuclear.

        Sit in a lab and do piddly experiments and “innovate” instead says the bank of england.

    • Günter Weber says:

      Thank you for the explanation.

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