Labour hits the right nuclear button

April 30, 2009

REUTERS— Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

Here’s a novelty — an awkward process that this British government has actually got right. Labour has played a fine game of grandmother’s footsteps in its realization of the inevitability of new nuclear power stations, and this week has clinched the sale of two sites for them.

The auction process, pioneered by Labour with the sale of radio spectrum for mobile phones, has once again raised much more than most observers expected.

Germany’s RWE and Eon are now the proud owners of land at Wylfa (on Anglesey, an island off a remote corner of Wales) and Oldbury (Gloucester, England).

Considering the relentless opposition from the tree-huggers, wind farm fans and believers in bad science, the UK government has managed the shift from “Nuclear power? No thanks” to economic reality rather well.

Having been forced to step in and rescue British Energy, the nuclear generator that dared not speak its name, it engineered the sale of the state’s holding to EDF of France last year before the capital markets seized up.

Now all the German owners of these little bits of Britain have to do is find the tens of billions of pounds needed to build the power stations. Let’s hope they can get them up and running before Britain’s lights start to dim, some time towards the end of the next decade.


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What a shortsighted way of looking at it. Lets remortgage the future again shall we with the eventual clean up and decommissioning costs. Not to mention the very real problems which occur with toxic waste and that you just created targets for those who would seek to destroy the country. The politicians who make these decisions will be long dead and gone. Only their grandchildren will have to pay the real price.

There are many solutions to energy production which if scaled and invested in would save the day. First off is education. Teach people to consume a lot less. There is probably 30% slack in the use of electricity. Give people real incentives like generous tax breaks to invest in alternative energy solutions. It would be interesting to see the effects on sales of these systems. Oh! – I forgot – people making their own electricity and no need for EDF and the rest any longer – damn – no tax revenues. A bit like cars not needing petrol. It is difficult not to be cynical.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

i just read an article on your site which mentions the trouble the US is having disposing of the waste created by these power stations tNews/idUKTRE53T7MH20090430

stupid idea, quick fix solution!

Posted by bert | Report as abusive

Teaching people to consume less is easier said than done, and even then would only delay the inevitable slightly.
There are no alternative sources for energy (save petro-power) that are anywhere near being realistic mass alternatives at this point and for the plannable future. Solar is expensive, unreliable, and a massive land hog. Wind is the same. Both have their applications, but neither has potential for mass replacement of current technologies.
Improvements to nuclear power technologies are probably the most promising. Until then, there are needs to be met using current systems.

Posted by Rufus | Report as abusive

Cheap, abundant Thorium cannot be used to create fission/fusion weapons and it poses much less of a disposal problem.

It’s really that simple.

Posted by Charlie Johnson | Report as abusive