We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

NUCLEAR MUDDLE EXTRA MATERIALfor article in Dec 2019 edition of Challenge

January 4, 2017 8:00 PM
By Steve Bolter

EXTRA MATERIAL to back up article in December 2019 edition of Challenge


1 Policy Document 109 Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain (Green Growth and Jobs)


2 Policy Motion F10 Autumn 2013 (Glasgow) Green Growth and Green Jobs (Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain)

Energy Policy - Motion F10 Autumn 2013 link

3 The joint Imperial College, University of Cambridge report for the National Infrastructure Commission "Delivering Future Proof Infrastructure", February 2016 , Goran Strbac, Ioannis Konstantelos, Marko Aunedi, Michael Pollitt, Richard Green


Additional material added on 4th January 2016.

Nuclear Muddle Background Information

A) Lifetime Carbon Intensity, B) Strike Prices, C) Safety, D) Why no public money for nuclear?

Easy to use PDF version (with illustrations also available)

A) Lifetime Carbon Intensity

A measure of the amount of greenhouse gas produced by an electricity generation plant, including in construction, fuel extraction, demolition, and waste management.


with Current Commercially available Technology


Greenhouse Gas emissions

grams of CO2 equivalent

per kWh of electricity*.

Coal - brown

1 000

Coal - black


Gas - North Sea combined cycle


Solar PV - utility scale




Concentrated Solar power Sahara




Wind Offshore




Wind Onshore


* 1 gram of CO2 equivalent per kWh = 1 kg of CO2 equivalent per MWh

Median figures from IPCC

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources#cite_note-IPCC_2014_Annex_III-2 Page 1335 (pdf page 27)

















B) Strike Prices

Low Carbon
Electricity Cost

Strike Prices £/MWh

Nuclear Hinckley C and Sizewell C (both)


Onshore Wind


Nuclear Hinckley C (only built)


Large Solar Photo-Voltaic also Hydro


Dedicated Biomass (with CHP)


Offshore Wind


Wave and Tidal Stream


For comparison, transposed into the same units, feed in tariff (including Export tariff) for early (2011) domestic rooftop Solar PV £490 / MWh The equivalent rate for 2016 home occupier financed installations is about £165 / MWh.

This figure is paid on the assumption that half of the electricity is being exported and half is used in the home. On that assumption, the payment for 2011 installations is £980/MWh exported to the Grid.

Renewables figures extracted from

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263937/Final_Document_-_Investing_in_renewable_technologies_-_CfD_contract_terms_and_strike_prices_UPDATED_6_DEC.pdf using 2017/8 figures.

Nuclear figures from


Strike Price of £89.50/MWh fully indexed to the Consumer Price Index. Price benefits from upfront reduction of £3/MWh built in on assumption that EdF will be able to share first of a kind costs of EPR reactors across Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C sites. If there is not a decision to investment build Sizewell C, the Strike Price for Hinkley Point C will be £92.50/MWh.


C) Safety

This figure includes actual deaths plus an allowance for loss of life expectancy due to injury or exposure to hazardous materials. It includes suppliers, contractors, on-site workers, and members of the public. The Nuclear figure includes mining, Chernobyl, Fukushima accidents and waste.

Death Rate (extraction and use)



(0.04) 0.09



Solar (rooftop)


Natural Gas




Coal - USA




Coal - world average


Data from


except that this document gave 0.04 for nuclear. I have put 0.09 because, having looked at other sources, I believe that to be a fairer estimate.


D) On the Lib Dem irrational "No public money for nuclear" Policy.

What is a mature technology?

Which low carbon electricity generation technologies are mature?

There is no set age of maturity. Human beings and elephants take longer to mature than mice and fruit flies. The larger and more complex a system, the longer it takes to mature. A technology is mature when, as a result of repeated application and improvement, its rate of development becomes small.

Electricity can be produced by electromagnetic induction (generator/ alternator), chemical reactions, and the photovoltaic effect (and also by the piezoelectric effect, the thermoelectric effect and more, but these are not used for grid supplies.)

The direct chemical production of electricity using fuel cells is a developing technology.

Until recently the photovoltaic cells were mainly used in light meters or to provide small amounts of electricity in remote places. In this century designs and production techniques have advance enormously. The technology has now matured with millions of solar PV panels in use.

Although not the oldest method, the most mature generation technology is the relative rotation of coils and magnetic fields - an example of electromagnetic induction. Various methods are used to produce the rotation in the generators.

The use of wind or water to produce rotation is over a thousand years old.

In 1878 a water turbine was used to drive an electricity generator at Cragside, a country house in Northumberland (now owned by the national Trust). High and low pressure water turbines are now mature large scale electricity production technologies.

A wind turbine was used to generate electricity in Ohio in 1888. A quarter of a million large scale electricity generating wind turbines are now operating. The technology is now mature.

Another way of producing rotation is by the use of a steam turbine. Steam turbines are also a mature technology. There are several methods of raising the steam.

Using the energy released by nuclear fission is the most recent steam raising technology to be deployed on a large scale. The plants are so large that the number needed is small. Their size complexity means that the time between design and full power use is long; making for a very long maturation period.

A change in emphasis from having weapons materials as a to producing as little long lived radio-active waste as possible, has meant that nuclear fission technology is very far from mature.

Suggestions that, when valuing its output, nuclear fission technology should be treated like fossil fuel technology, rather than as the low carbon technology it is, because it is mature, would be irrational even if it were a mature technology.

The current Lib Dem policy of no public money for very low CO2 nuclear energy, but substantial subsidies for mature wind, and for solar PV, which has 4 times the carbon intensity of nuclear,

is irrational.

Steve Bolter 4th Jan 2017