Nuclear Power is an inefficient power supply option

It isn’t my particular intention to use this blog to score points against Uk policymakers or to support one technology or another, but I confess to a sense of disappointment with the decision by the UK Govt in 2009 to continue to support nuclear power. The decision to continue to use it as part of the supply system of electrical power to the National Grid is expedient in many ways. The technology exists and is relatively stable and safe. There is a supply of uranium ore that will last long enough to make another generation of nuclear power valid, and possibly there will be advances in the technology to make it safer and capable of reusing spent fuel and perhaps even the safety concerns over the storage of the spent fuel will be alleviated some time soon. None of these issues are as significant to me as the core issue of efficiency.
Nuclear power, like all generation systems generates a lot of spare heat which is wasted. In other power plants there are opportunities to use the spare heat in industrial processes, to pump it towards nearby population centres,or to use it in agriculture. None of this is likely with nuclear power even if it is possible to do so safely. No community would willingly have a nuclear power plant sited close enough to them to use the spare heat, and no community would be likely to accept that it was safe to do this no matter how the information was presented to them.
This image of nuclear as a dangerous option that must be sited far from population centres, and preferably on sites where older systems already exist, means that it will remain an inefficient technology to use, and keeps it in a bracket with coal-fired power stations as a technology whose time has come and gone. The refusal of politicians and policy makers in the UK to acknowledge these facts is disappointing and means that valuable and scarce resources will be used to prop up a technology that will be forever unpopular with the UK population instead of investing in more sustainable technology that can be advanced and sold more widely across the globe.


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