In August 2016, I wrote an article for The Ecologist indicating that the widespread belief that nuclear power was a good source of employment was a myth. In fact, a shibboleth. The article stated that Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for 2014 indicated only 15,500 direct jobs in nuclear power compared with 43,500 direct jobs in renewables – ie RE provided about three times more direct jobs than nuclear. This is important as a few large trade unions and the TUC use the jobs argument as their main reason for defending nuclear power. These unions influence Labour Party policies. Recently, the ONS published a new updated study “UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates: 2015”. This study reveals that in 2015 the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) direct jobs in nuclear had declined to 12,400, while the number of FTE direct jobs in the renewable forms of electricity generation had increased to 48,900 – in total about four times more than in nuclear. The disparity between them is increasing. [Note. These data are not printed physically in the report, but they are electronically. Go to Figure 2 in the online version of the ONS report and place one’s cursor on the relevant bars of the histogram. The revealed percentage figures can easily be converted to absolute numbers.] In fact, the ONS figure for nuclear energy is inaccurate and misleading, as about 9,400 of the 12,400 nuclear workers do not produce electricity at all. They are engaged at Sellafield in Cumbria, mostly in nuclear reprocessing. The reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is a filthy, dangerous, polluting and essentially useless activity which produces no electricity: instead, it consumes a great deal of it. Reprocessing accounts for much of NDA’s annual operating bill of ~£3 billion for which taxpayers pick up the tab. For more on the financial, environmental and ethical nonsense of nuclear reprocessing, see my article on reprocessing.
Ian Fairlie 10th May 2017 read more »