Opinion: European Commission is right to demand Ed Davey and the Coalition re-thinks on nuclear power

Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant - Some rights reserved by John O DyerIn October 2013, Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey set out his arguments for reversing his long-held antipathy to nuclear power. On behalf of the Coalition, he is applying to the European Commission to ensure that the measures he is promoting – to ensure construction of the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation – are compatible with the Single Market.

But now the Competition Directorate of the European Commission has sent a 70-page rebuttal to the UK Government, completely rejecting its arguments for subsidising the building of the Hinckley B nuclear power station in Somerset. One of the reasons given is the failure of the Government properly to consider the potential for investing in energy saving programmes that would reduce demand for electricity.

The Commission expresses real concern at the failure to consider a purposeful energy efficiency stimulus as an alternative investment strategy. It has long been Liberal Democrat policy that investment options between new power stations and energy conservation should always be rigorously compared before permitting any new constructions.

Overall the Commission is concerned that the subsidies the UK is planning to give the largely French government-owned Electricité de France (EDF) will create windfall profits, distort the market, and crowd out investment in renewables and energy efficiency. This would be in breach of State Aid rules.

Under the UK government’s plans, EDF will receive a guaranteed and inflation-proofed electricity price for 35 years of up to £92.50 (EURO 111.65) per megawatt hour for any electricity it produces. This is double the
current price and above predicted prices for the whole period. The Treasury is also offering to underwrite most of the loans needed for the £16bn, 3.2-gigawatt peak capacity project.

The Commission’s 70-page letter is blunt. Rising carbon prices under the EU emissions trading system and the UK’s carbon price floor should provide EDF with sufficient incentive to build the project, it says.

“It is not clear that there is any residual market failure,” it continues. “Nuclear might involve such high levels of capital investments that it might face issues in raising finance. Apart from that, it is not clear that
the technology warrants the provision of state aid in the form which the UK has chosen.”

Caustically, the letter notes that “the UK considers that gains from demand-side measures which go beyond those achieved through existing policies cannot be considered certain, in particular since the demand-side market might take time before becoming effective.” Although, at the earliest, Hinckley B will not be functioning until 2025.

The Commission states that “it is unclear what impact the plant might have on commercial activities being undertaken on the demand side of the market … some of these activities, despite the current, relatively embryonic, state of the technology used, are the object of investment by private operators and can be profitable.”

The letter also points out that EDF is building similar projects in Finland and France without support. Were it to proceed, Hinckley B would the first new nuclear power station to begin construction in the UK for a quarter of a century. A final decision regarding the power station is not expected until this autumn at the earliest.

I sincerely hope that the European Commission sticks to its guns, and demands a full-scale re-think of this foolish policy, which seeks to reverse such long standing Liberal Democrat philosophy. I argue this not just on energy policy terms. But in the fear that, should any European government be permitted to distort the marketplace so heavily as the UK now is proposing to do, it will create a precedent for every other government to provide special case subsidies for each and every uneconomic pet project.

The creation of a truly liberalised Single Market has long been one of the key benefits accruing from the EU. It would be a supreme irony were it to be the political party fighting the European elections as very much the “Party of In”, to be the successful champion of a policy that if implemented would so overtly undermine some of the best arguments for continued involvement with the entire European project.

NB: The UK Coalition Agreement 2010-15 acknowledges that the Liberal Democrats have long been opposed to new nuclear power stations. It states unequivocally that there will be “no taxpayer subsidy” for new nuclear.

* Andrew Warren is a Lib Dem member in Cambridge. He was a member of the party's recent working group on the zero carbon economy, and chaired the party's energy working group during the 2005-10 Parliament.

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41 Comments

  • jedibeeftrix 23rd Mar '14 - 4:06pm

    What is the cost of wind power per megawatt hour?

    This says £95 for our thousands of wind mills:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/205620/international_support_onshore_wind_frontier.pdf

    So I’m not sure I can work myself up into any kind of a fluster about £92 for nuclear…

    Why are you so worked up?

  • There continues to be a significant lack of honesty and lack of transparency about the costs of building new nuclear, about the costs of storage of nuclear waste, about the costs of decommissioning nuclear power stations once they become old and unusable. Much of the cost of these elements of nuclear power is born by the taxpayer and not factored into the cost of electricity production: The sort of thing that we used to call “cooking the books”.

    The actual cost of subsidising the generating of electricity at Hinkley C if it ever actually gets built is another imponderable.
    When Ed Davey says one thing and the EU authorities say another, who are we to believe?
    Unfortunately, Ed Davey is notorious for “changing his mind” on this issue. He was a vocal opponent of new nuclear for years until he became the secretary of state. He was repeatedly elected as an opponent of new nuclear. He has no mandate for the position he has taken snce becoming secretary of state. He is not the most reliable witness on past evidence. His family links with the nuclear industry are also not encouraging, but I suppose it is possible that these links are just a coincidence and his brother has no influence whatsoever on him.

    Andrew Warren points out that the EU Competition Directorate of the European Commission has sent a 70-page rebuttal to the UK Government, completely rejecting its arguments for subsidising the building of the new nuclear at Hinckley.

    Why should we not believe the EU Competition Directorate?

  • Chris Manners 23rd Mar '14 - 6:26pm

    Not that it’s the main issue, but this isn’t going to be very good for Clegg v Farage, is it?

  • Duncan Brack 23rd Mar '14 - 6:44pm

    jedibeeftrix – the figure you quote for the cost of wind is from 2011. By January 2013, it was down to just over £90 (see here: https://www.gov.uk/onshore-wind-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix); the difference between the costs of onshore wind and gas had halved in the previous five years.

    Wind is still a relatively immature technology (much more so for offshore than onshore), and so it can be expected that the costs will come down over time as the technology improves. Nuclear is a mature technology, and the costs are not likely to come down – in fact, as a series of studies has shown, its cost has tended to rise.

  • jedibeeftrix 23rd Mar '14 - 7:15pm

    thank you, Duncan.

  • A Social Liberal 23rd Mar '14 - 7:33pm

    Andrew Warren said
    “The letter also points out that EDF is building similar projects in Finland and France without support.”

    Why on earth did the coalition government make such an appalling contract given that this is the case?

  • Geoff Crocker
    We could follow the example of the German government which is moving to 80% of energy from renewables within 35 years.
    Duncan Brack’s point about the reduction in cost of wind power also applies to other renewables. According to the Energy saving trust website the cost of solar panels has been cut in half si

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Mar '14 - 8:42pm

    100% agreement with John Tilley.
    It is perfectly clear that fission nuclear power will be, as it always has been, massively subsidised … particularly when the costs include decommissioning and the long-term storage costs of the long-lived high grade radioactive waste. Calder Hall (adjacent to Windscale) came online in 1954 with the promise of electricity too cheap to meter. 60 years on we are still being peddled much the same rubbish regarding the benefits and cost effectiveness of this technology. It just doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny, or more importantly, the indisputable evidence.
    Setting aside the cost of generation, the price of physical failure or damage associated with renewable generation methods is minimal when compared to the nuclear alternative.

    “We face a significant threat associated with the burning of fossil fuels and high levels of atmospheric CO2”. “Oh I know how to solve that, we’ll swap the threat of CO2 and those associated with global warming for a radioactive environment, nowhere to put the waste, increased terrorist threats, increased civilian surveillance etc. – and while we’re at it, we’ll highlight the dangers of other (non-western) countries following the same path”. “I’m sure no one will notice the lack of honesty, transparency and intellectual consistency!!!” It reads like something from a black comedy.

    Full marks to the European Commission and to Andrew Warren for highlighting this topic and reminding us of the wording of the Coalition Agreement, “The UK Coalition Agreement 2010-15 acknowledges that the Liberal Democrats have long been opposed to new nuclear power stations” and it stating unequivocally that there will be “no taxpayer subsidy” for new nuclear.

    As I have posted previously, the free market capitalist-following economic Liberals have also quietly adopted much Tory environmental policy and rewritten ours in the process.

    Just for the record, my (less than perfect) SW-facing 3.3 kWh solar PV system has been generating more energy than the house actually consumes since week-ending 2nd March.

    The Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties have long traditions in supporting decentralised and less capital intensive methods of energy generation. It is not just the capitulation in the face of the Tory Right and right wing press, but in Government ‘we’ also seem to have forgotten our commitment to energy saving and renewable energy generation. I personally feel that of all the issues (student fees excepted), it is our commitment to the environment that has been most completely compromised by our Coalition Ministers.

    @Beeftrix and Geoff Crocker – I do have to wonder which finite-resourced planet people like you live on? Perhaps you can tell us how many years extractable Uranium we have left? Nor do I recall you ever mentioning living within our means when it comes to energy!

  • The French build is planned to receive cross-subsidy from the other nuclear stations (which are effectively government owned) and its estimated generating cost, although lower than the Hinkley build, is not _that_ much lower. So it is receiving subsidies and the EU commission is lying about the essence of the situation, if not about the technicalities.

  • Chris Manners 23rd Mar '14 - 9:27pm

    Labour would have probably done the same, it shames me to say.

    Scathing though I usually am about Lib Dem internal opposition, I appreciate that on this issue there is plenty of it and very dearly held. Hope you can get some real improvements here.

    There was another good post on green taxes being cut. I’d certainly say you’re due a bit of a favour back after that.

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Mar '14 - 9:35pm

    @Duncan Brack “Wind is still a relatively immature technology (much more so for offshore than onshore), and so it can be expected that the costs will come down over time as the technology improves”

    Surely an argument for waiting to install wind power? why install now if the costs are going to come down ?

  • Simon McGrath Costs will certainly NOT come down if everybody “waits to instal”. It is only by continued funds for investment, primarily from receipts from sales made, that such improvements (“maturity”) can come. To make the opposite case, surely there is no point in installing technology (nuclear) which is likely to make only marginal efficiency improvements, and has so many downsides anyway?

  • It is surprising to me that Ed Davey is proposing that we pay twice as much for nuclear power as we do currently for other sources after we recently (September 2013) passed a new policy on this issue which states, “in future, nuclear power stations could play a limited role in electricity supply, provided concerns about … cost (including decommissioning) are adequately addressed and without allowing any public subsidy for new build.” Didn’t Ed say at conference that we would not be giving a subsidy for the new nuclear power station he was planning?

    If we look at the coalition agreement it states that Liberal Democrats will speak against new nuclear power stations and then they will abstain, while the Conservatives will only support new nuclear power stations “provided that they receive no public subsidy”. Therefore Ed Davey’s policy is not only not Liberal Democrat party policy, it is not even Conservative party policy and it is not allowed under the coalition agreement either!

  • Comparing wind with nuclear is like comparing apples with oranges. They are two different things. Wind power cannot provide electricity all of the time and is subject to natural fluctuations, quite the contrast to nuclear. Nor can it scale up so much. The proper comparison is nuclear with coal/oil/gas electricity generation.

    These are far cheaper than nuclear if, and this is important, you discount the costs of climate change. If you include them then nuclear is a no brainer.

    It’s still expensive though, and should of course be considered with other renewable/green energy sources, but it must form part of our energy future if we are to cut carbon emissions significantly.

    There are no miracle solutions, but the risks of nuclear are far lower than those of carbon based energy, it would be irresponsible not to make it a priority.

  • g
    You repeat the myth that we cannot get electricity from wind when the wind is not blowing.
    If the battery and other forms of storage had not been invented this would be true. It is not true because technology has moved on from the dinosaur days when nuclear power was first introduced.
    I am able to tap away on this IPad because technology has solved the problem of battery capacity that we had a couple of decades ago when lap tops were hefty and chunky and looked more like a small suitcase.
    Similarly we can use electricity from wind even when the wind is not blowing, or from solar even when the sun is not shining, just as we can get electricity from hydro even when it is not raining. Clever chaps these technologists. It is no longer necessary for me to have my IPad linked by a wire all the way to Hinkley to get electricity the moment it has been generated.

    But you do not have to believe me you can believe those terribly reliable people Siemens (to pick a multinational corporate interest at random) look at their website —
    http://www.energy.siemens.com/hq/en/renewable-energy/?stc=wwecc120516&ef_id=UtJTGgAABW7KISNG:20140324092928:s

    It is a myth that we have to pay the huge, uneconomic costs of Hinkley C. We do not need to risk any more Chernobyls or Fukushimas because we can get electricity safely and cheaply from wind, wave, hydro, solar and other renewable sources 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can do it without turning off the lights or living in freezing homes. We can also reduce our energy needs by using existing technologies to make our energy use more efficient. I know all this because Ed Davey used to tell me. Strangely he has changed his mind just at the point when technology has made the argument even stronger than it used to be. It is like he swam out to sea and climbed on board The Titanic just in time to take over as captain before the ship sank.

    I don’t know if you are still using a 1940s style light bulb in your house when the rest of the country has shifted to energy saving bulbs. If not why do you want to impose 1940s style thinking and go back to the old expensive days of nuclear ?

  • Geoff Crocker
    You say – “..I’ve invested £99,300 in photo voltaic cells on a new care home which I calculate will increase the cost of care of the elderly by about £6/week per person..”.
    None of us in LDV is able to cooment on the details of this . We can only assume that you made a very bad investment or that your calculations are wrong.
    You seem to be saying that we should listen to you because you have made a mistake with your particular investment. I am sure that you cannot be saying that. But you will I hope acknowledge that it looks that way.

  • Paul in Twickenham 24th Mar '14 - 11:00am

    @JohnTilley – great points. As I commented on this forum a couple of years ago, we already have the basic disruptive technology – in the form of graphene – to create supercapacitors that will allow electric cars with a 300 mile range to be charged in less time than it takes to put petrol in a car. The same game changing technology is becoming commercialized in the domestic solar pv market to allow storage of PV energy for later use. Graphene is an amazing material and given that it was discovered here in the UK it’s a great shame that most of the ongoing research is overseas.

  • Geoff Crocker
    It may be an example of a policy of Bristol City Council but does it really hold wider lesssons?
    I do not thnk would be wise to build Hinkley C on the basis of an illegal subsidy especially in view of the reasons set out by the EU Competition Directorate.
    The Directorate seem to be saying the same as you in one sense, ie that we should not be subsidising unnecessarily expensive electricity production when we could be reducuing our demand for electricity.
    Reducing our demand does not mean turning the lights off, it means using the technology we already have to use electricity more efficiently. See comment from Paul in Twickenham.

    Who is against greater efficiency and preventing illegal and unwise nuclear subsidies? Other than people with a vested interest in nuclear?

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Mar '14 - 4:28pm

    Battery back up…. well, there’s Dinorwic. And similar hydro storage technology. A 5 Gw or so interconnector to Norway would enable Norwegian hydro to act as wind backup.

  • >Why should we not believe the EU Competition Directorate?

    Well that largely depends on whether you believe the EU Competition Directorate have a better understanding of what the UK energy market will be like in the period 2025~2060 and whether they have a better idea of the likely impacts on the UK economy if their more optimistic projections turn out wrong…

    Certainly from the lack of evidence presented in the report, I suggest they don’t have a clue and from other attempted interventions are probably biased towards increasing the UK’s dependency on the EU and weakening the UK economy – remember some powerful sections of the EU have lobbied for Frankfurt to be the EU’s financial centre, knowing full well it would largely destroy London’s place in the financial world…

    So whilst the EU document is worth reading as a critique of the information the UK government has published todate, I certainly

  • Missed the end of my closing sentence:

    So whilst the EU document is worth reading as a critique of the information the UK government has published todate, I certainly won’t put too much weight on it’s objectivity. To me the report indicates that the UK government still needs to improve the way it is playing the EU game.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Mar '14 - 9:25pm

    @g “Comparing wind with nuclear is like comparing apples with oranges.” Perhaps you meant to say ‘comparing apples with a hand grenade or a Faberge egg?’

    @Geoff Crocker ” Again, how much can we reduce our 360 (ish) TWh demand by, and by what mixture of efficient use and less use?”
    So are you saying it can’t be done, that we have no idea, that you don’t like the answers being given here or you just think that nuclear power is a jolly good thing – at any price?

    Several of us posted previously along the lines that individuals and local communities must become (increasingly) responsible for a percentage of energy saving and local generation. Far too many NIMBY Tories and your press-supporters are preventing proper public debate regarding what is and isn’t possible and entirely desirable. This has the effect of making the man in the street that high-cost nuclear is the only answer because the press don’t discuss its many drawbacks and threats.

    All we need is some dynamic leadership from the DECC – solar thermal and PV on all new property, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, hydro-electric, energy from non-recyclable packaging waste, strategically placed energy generating methods to remove energy from tidal-surges etc. National grants for community projects, support for ultra thin solar PV that has the potential to power glass-clad office blocks etc. All we need to do is release existing British expertise and natural human inventiveness.

    There is far more to gain via environmental protection, building on our wave and wind expertise (not to mention Paul in Twickenham’s graphene), better capital to job ratio, expansion of manufacturing and exports than yet further subsidies for the now foreign-owned nuclear industry.

    As a fellow investor in solar PV, I can’t see how you are not at least breaking even. Even a ‘rent a roof’ scheme would give you free day-time electricity. Sounds like you signed a deal with EDF!

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Mar '14 - 10:35pm

    Dear Geoff – Apologies for the poorly aimed satire!

    So we can at least agree on “we need a thoroughly calculated, consistent and implementable energy policy, and currently we don’t have one.”

    Re “Even then it has to be admitted that reducing electricity consumption is never easy, as consumers are resistant” .. OK, if electricity costs are so high, one has to ask why are they resistant and why isn’t the conservation message getting through? We appear to have fallen into a US-style belief system through which we believe that everything being left permanently on standby or even just left on full time is entirely acceptable. One only has to look at the number of 4 wheel drive SUV’s on our congested urban roads to see that we do indeed need clearer vision and leadership.

    Because we can or can afford to do something doesn’t mean that we should. I know I’m back on the apple pie but recent and present generations are grossly over consuming the available resources of a finite planet. Yes, that presents a libertarian clash between the freedom to purchase and consume what one wishes and the truth of it impoverishing the lives of future generations. Us all having to take some responsibility for HOUSEHOLD energy consumption and LOCAL generation seems to me to be a good starting point. If we keep on asking the same question of a poorly informed constituency we shouldn’t be surprised that we keep getting the same answer. If people were asked if they wished to see wind turbines OR a new upwind nuclear or coal power station, we might begin to see some different answers.

    Finally, if all else fails, we may indeed have to renew nuclear power stations but that should be a late rather than early stage option. Against our party (and coalition) policy we have done what the Tories and Labour have always done – gone straight for the high capital, highly unionised workforce option. That is one of the biggest disappointments from a Liberal Democrat-led department in a Government promising to be the greenest ever.

  • Geoff Crocker
    I take your point , in your response to Stephen Hesketh, that reduction of electricity consumption is not necessarily easy. But that is not to say that it cannot be easy. One of the easiest reductions was achieved by the simple regulatory. Change which required all light bulbs to be energy saving light bulbs. This measure could have been taken in the earlier 1980s when these light bulbs first became available . How many dinosaur nuclear power stations could have been shut down if we had just taken that simple step thirty years earlier than we did?
    Similarly most people could reduce their domestic electricity use immediately by spending £20 to buy a smaller electric kettle — the average electric kettle on the market is far too big and most of us make a single cup of tea or instant coffee by boiling up a kettle full of water, most of which will just go cold again. In fact I have seen convincing evidence that most families could save more on their electricity bill by getting a smaller kettle than they ever could by “switching”. ( apologies I have lost the link ) .

  • Stephen Hesketh, yes you are quite right when you say —

    Stephen Hesketh 24th Mar ’14 – 10:35pm
    “..Against our party (and coalition) policy we have done what the Tories and Labour have always done – gone straight for the high capital, highly unionised workforce option. That is one of the biggest disappointments from a Liberal Democrat-led department in a Government promising to be the greenest ever.”

    To my mind this is an even bigger folly than tuition fees. It is made worse every time Ed Davey goes on the TV and talks the talk of the nuclear industry. He uses the language of the climate change deniers, with dire warnings about the “lights going out” if we do not do what he says. This is cynical nonsense and he must know that. I cannot fathom his motives . Why does he think it is either morally or politically sensible to do the work of Lord Lawson and the climate chage deniers by pretending that we can only avoid the cold and the dark by doing what he says? It is not true and the EU Competition Directorate have now made clear why it is not true.

    More extreme Liberal Democrats than me might argue that as the Party of IN, the Party that always takes the sensible European route, the Liberal Democrats should now be withdrawing the whip from Ed Davey for bringing the party into disrepute.

  • Jenny Barnes 25th Mar '14 - 9:00am

    Geoff “a local micro CHP unit here in Bristol costing £36K against £4K for a normal condensing boiler has a much lower thermal efficiency of only 72%,”

    You may be comparing apples and onions – it’s not clear. Electricity generation is subject to Carnot’s law, and the most efficient thermal power generation (combined cycle gas turbine) turns 50% of the energy input as heat into electricity. Electricity or mechanical energy being much more useful than heat, this conversion is well worth while. Your 72% may be a very high level of efficiency – depending on how much electricity is generated.

  • This has certainly been a massive slap-down for Ed Davey. Many of us, including as an exemplar, John Tilley, have been trying to point out forcefully some of the ways he has been going wrong. When I first was aware of, and then met Ed Davey, I thought he was above all things an environmentally progressive thinker. His time in office in DECC has been a let-down. Chris Huhne was at least combative with deniers when he filled the role. This report has said much more publicly, what a lot of Lib Dems on the green wing have tried to make clear.

  • Thorium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power

    As an alternative fuel source for nuclear it has enormous advantages of being plentiful around the world and produces a fraction of the waste traditional nuclear powers stations do. And it cant be used to make nuclear weapons (one of the biggest reasons its never caught on)

    Thorium could provide a clean and effectively limitless source of power while allaying all public concern—weapons proliferation, radioactive pollution, toxic waste, and fuel that is both costly and complicated to process

    The Chinese are going for it:
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100026863/china-going-for-broke-on-thorium-nuclear-power-and-good-luck-to-them/

    There was an excellent fringe meeting about Thorium at this months Spring Conference, it could become the backbone of LibDem nuclear strategy, keeping all the party happy.

  • @Gareth Wilson
    One of the big things about Thorium is that the UK is actually well placed to become a R&D leader in this field – plus jobs for graduates…

    Given the amount of money we will be throwing at (Uranium) nuclear in the coming years and much of it going abroad it could potentially have a massive impact on the balance of payments…

  • Gareth Wilson
    from the link you provided I read this —

    Thorium — Possible disadvantages

    Some experts note possible specific disadvantages of thorium nuclear power:
    Breeding in a thermal neutron spectrum is slow and requires extensive reprocessing. The feasibility of reprocessing is still open.
    Significant and expensive testing, analysis and licensing work is first required, requiring business and government support.
    According to a 2012 report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, about using thorium fuel with existing water-cooled reactors, it would “require too great an investment and provide no clear payoff,” noting that “from the utilities’ point of view, the only legitimate driver capable of motivating pursuit of thorium is economics.”
    There is a higher cost of fuel fabrication and reprocessing in designs that use traditional solid fuel rods.
    Thorium, when being irradiated for use in reactors, will make uranium-232, which is very dangerous due to the gamma rays it emits. Though the irradiation process may be able to be altered slightly by removing protactinium-233.
    The irradiation would then make uranium-233 in lieu of uranium-232, which can be used in nuclear weapons to make thorium into a dual purpose fuel.

    Given that we already have proven trusted technologies for both reducing electricity demand and for cheaper, safe, renewable electricity generation why would we want to spend a fortune on developing this nuclear generation with a cosmetic overlay?

  • @JohnTilley
    All good points, I suggest the main reason we should and need to research Thorium is because, fundamentally there isn’t very much Uranium around; at projected consumption levels (which takes into account a significant increase in the world’s nuclear generating capacity in the coming years).

    So I think, the answer is Uranium for now, but a viable alternative in a few decades time won’t go amiss, particularly as the work on fusion doesn’t seem to be progressing particularly fast …

    Yes we can reduce our energy consumption, a couple of simple one’s: Abandon HS2 and the building of 300,000 new homes per annum…

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Mar '14 - 8:25pm

    @John Tilley – Thank you for this piece giving the disadvantages of Thorium reactors. Takes me back to nuclear chemistry lectures! Like Gareth, I too have previously posted on their advantages of this technology – such as the inherent impossibility of a meltdown. Good to have a different opinion.
    @John Tilley in reply to Geoff Crocker “I take your point , in your response to Stephen Hesketh, that reduction of electricity consumption is not necessarily easy. But that is not to say that it cannot be easy.”. Indeed and again in a previous thread when I posted that my 3.3kWh solar PV had, over the course of its first year or so, produced double the electricity our home had consumed, it was I seem to recall, another of our learned contributors, Jenny Barnes, who observed how little our family home must consumed. Yes, as of today the ratio is 1:1.5 used vs generated – and that includes two winters and just one summer. In my mind not only does this do much to justify domestic solar PV but also just what can be achieved by simple non-draconian energy saving measures.

    It is most interesting to Google ‘Average UK electricity’. The auto-suggestions are “bill, bill 2013, price and cost” rather than USE which is the largest cost of all! Few consumers must be aware of how their own bill compares to other households. That information would make a very useful addition to people’s bills and would highlight excessive use. The same bill could provide information regarding quick and easy approaches to energy saving and therefore cost reduction. Every kWh saved is one we don’t need to generate. This is not rocket science!
    For the record: average electricity 3300kWh, gas 16,500kWh. OK, most of the time it’s just Mrs H and myself but using totally painless saving methods, we’re down to 1525kWh in the last 12 months so perhaps 2000-2500 if our off-spring were at home. Still a significant saving and we could do much more.
    See: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/76112/domestic-energy-consump-fig-fs.pdf

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