Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Nuclear confusion in Daily Telegraph

Letter submitted to The Daily Telegraph on 4 January: Professor RG Faulkner ‘s letter (“ Britain needs nuclear energy to meet demand,” Daily Telegraph, 4 January 2021) makes a series of assumptions on likely future energy demand in order to reach his conclusions in the potential for significant increase in electricity supply. The professor’s specialism seems to be metallurgy, in his university ( Loughborough) department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. His pronouncements on the need for new nuclear shows the danger out jumping out of your area of expertise into one where your knowledge is deficient. I have spent forty years studying and writing professionally on nuclear power, and several of his assertions are demonstrably wrong. Let me just take two. Firstly, he assumes that the U.K. needs to be able to generate all the electrify it needs. This is not so. The U.K. has an interconnector with continental Europe( and is working on one with Iceland that has virtually limitless geothermal potential to generate power). The Brexit agreement protects the continued use of the inter connector, which is helpful because the one hour time difference between the U.K. and most of the EU, means the peak demand is at different times across the Channel. Secondly, the Professor asserts that Rolls Royce has a design of small modular reactor( SMR)- 660 megawatt units- virtually available “off the shelf.” This is untrue. To be sure, RR does have a smaller submarine reactor design, but it’s SMR plant is more part of a successful public relations push by the company than an industrial reality. Even if it were technically ready, it still has a robust regulatory hurdle by the Office. for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to pass, which is no foregone conclusion

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