The main claim used to justify nuclear is that it’s the only low carbon power source that can supply ‘reliable, baseload electricity’, writes Mark Diesendorf – unlike wind and solar. But not only can renewables supply baseload power, they can do something far more valuable: supply power flexibly according to demand. Now nuclear power really is redundant. Underlying this claim are three key assumptions. First, that baseload power is actually a good and necessary thing. In fact, what it really means is too much power when you don’t want it, and not enough when you do. What we need is flexible power (and flexible demand too) so that supply and demand can be matched instant by instant. The second assumption is that nuclear power is a reliable baseload supplier. In fact it’s no such thing. All nuclear power stations are subject to tripping out for safety reasons or technical faults. That means that a 3.2GW nuclear power station has to be matched by 3.2GW of expensive ‘spinning reserve’ that can be called in at a moments notice. The third is that the only way to supply baseload power is from baseload power stations, such as nuclear, coal and gas, designed to run flat-out all the time whether their power is actually needed or not. That’s wrong too.
Ecologist 10th March 2016 read more »
ON March 11th 2011 a tsunami engulfed Japan’s north-east coast, flooding towns, farmland and severely damaging the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Almost 19,000 people were killed by the tsunami, and a further 160,000 were evacuated after the power plant’s core leaked radiation into the sea and surrounding area in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Five years on, Fukushima is still an exclusion zone and tens of thousands are stuck in temporary shelter. Japan shut down all but two of its 43 reactors over safety concerns. And other countries have recently sped up efforts to replace nuclear power with greener renewables.
Economist 10th March 2016 read more »