The history of nuclear power in the U.K. is a pitiful record of neglect, says Andrew Orlowski in the Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt:
Last week we experienced our first ‘dunkelflaute’ of the winter. That’s the term used in the renewable energy industry to refer to a period of high pressure and calm that we experience in winter, when the leaves crunch beneath our feet, but the blades of the wind turbines don’t turn.
As the Telegraph reported, this event pushed our energy system close to breaking point. But if successive governments had done their job, we would have more than enough power to spare.
Firstly, we have abundant natural gas resources in Europe that lie completely untapped beneath our feet. Yet we pay the highest price for gas in Europe, and did so even before Putin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine, thanks to the design of the energy market.
The U.K. also pioneered the peaceful use of nuclear energy, proving it to be the cheapest, safest and least environmentally damaging energy source of all. Harwell’s trailblazing GLEEP reactor was the first anywhere in the world, creating electricity in 1947, and was still chugging away in 1990. …
We already have an energy gap because we don’t generate enough as it is to meet demand, we have to buy it, expensively, and so we are importing around 5GW via connectors from other countries.
This autumn we’ve typically imported between 3GW and 5GW of what we need. Yet the nuclear baseload generation didn’t blink, delivering a consistent 5GW. …
All is not lost, however. We can summon up a promising small modular reactor (SMR) from Rolls-Royce based on scaled-up submarine engine designs, one of many SMR designs on drawing boards. …
Yet the delays drag on. There’s little sign of urgency in Whitehall as the Department for Energy and Net Zero continues to mull over which SMR design to back. A decision will appear in the spring, the department tells me. But not one reactor will be online before 2030.
Worth reading in full.