Nuclear is cheapest ‘low carbon’ energy source

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Energy secretary gives the green light to nuclear development, despite fears over the management of nuclear waste.

In a speech to the Royal Society today, energy secretary Chris Huhne confirmed that the UK is to continue with its plan to build new nuclear power plants that was set in motion by the current Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband when he was Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

This means that, as chief inspector of nuclear installations Mike Weightman reported, current plants can have their lives extended, and new ones may be built.

Citing the costs of the the three low carbon technologies, Huhne said: “Offshore wind is assessed at £130 per megawatt hour, gas with carbon capture at £95 per megawatt hour, and nuclear at £66 per megawatt hour. These figures take account of waste and decommissioning costs, so nuclear should still be the cheapest low carbon source of electricity.”

It is those costs of dealing with the nuclear waste and decommissioning old reactors that Mr Huhne was clear to highlight. The cost of “cleaning up” nuclear waste has risen to “Half of [his] department’s budget”, and there is “6,900 cubic metres of high-level nuclear waste” that needs to be managed until we know how to deal with it.