Nuclear power is incredibly expensive, hazardous and slow to build. It is often referred to as ‘clean’ energy because it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases when electricity is generated but the reality is that it isn’t a plausible alternative to renewable energy sources.
Building nuclear reactors is costly, running into billions of pounds. The UK’s new Hinkley Point C reactor could cost over £25 billion by the time it’s finished, leading it to be called “the most expensive object on Earth”. Such huge sums of money would be better invested in truly clean energy, such as wind power which produces energy more cheaply.
Reactors are also complicated things to build. A new reactor in Finland is at least 11 years behind schedule, thanks to problems with the reactor design. Hinkley C was supposed to be producing energy by 2017, but it now isn’t due until 2025 at the earliest. The nuclear industry’s track record suggests it will be delayed even further. Climate change is already happening and we simply can’t wait that long when wind and solar power are so much quicker to install.
Nuclear power doesn’t make sense
Nuclear energy is also dangerous. We’re still living with the legacy of accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima which released huge amounts of radioactive material. Even without such accidents, nuclear power creates radioactive waste at every stage of production, including uranium mining and reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. Some of this waste will remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, yet nobody knows of a way to safely store it so problems aren’t created for future generations.
The UK government’s hopes for a new generation of nuclear power stations is crashing against the economic realities. As the cost of truly clean energy plummets and the price of nuclear energy spirals out of control, nuclear power companies are shelving their plans to build plants in the UK.
Instead of backing nuclear power, our government needs to invest in renewable energy including wind and solar power. A thriving renewable energy industry will create jobs, provide cheaper electricity and help cut emissions much faster than nuclear power.