The Fukushima-Daiichi accident has had little impact on business leaders’ enthusiasm for new nuclear plants with more than 80 percent in favour of a new nuclear programme in the UK

The Institute of Directors (IOD) report, which includes a survey of 1,117 members, shows that 84 percent are in favour of new nuclear in the UK.

In February 2010, 13 months before the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, a similar survey of 1,798 IOD members found that 85 percent thought that new nuclear power plants should be built in the UK. These results show that the Fukushima accident has had little impact on members’ enthusiasm for new nuclear, the IOD said.

The report, called ‘Britain’s Nuclear Future’, makes the case for nuclear energy as “a clean, cheap and safe” way to meet the country’s energy needs.

IOD calculations, averaging out the findings of a number of studies, show that life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear are around 50 tonnes per gigawatt hour compared with nearly 500 tonnes from gas and more than 900 tonnes from coal.

The report says when costs are averaged out over a lifetime, nuclear is also relatively cheap.

For a 2017 project start, including the impact of a rising carbon price, levelised costs are projected to be around £70 ($109, 87 euro) per megawatt hour for nuclear, £95/MWh for gas, £130/MWh for coal, £145/MWh for onshore wind and £180/MWh for offshore wind.

The report says that according to estimates from the European Commission and the Paul Scherrer Institute, nuclear is the safest electricity generation technology, with a death rate of 0 to 0.2 per gigawatt year of electricity generated, compared with 0.2 per gigawatt year for wind, 0.1 to 0.4 for gas, 0 to 0.8 for hydro, 1.4 for peat and biomass, 2.2 for lignite, 2.8 for coal and 4.1 for oil.

IOD calculations, based on a number of studies, show that life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear are around 50 tonnes per GW, compared with nearly 500 tonnes from gas and over 900 tonnes from coal. In addition nuclear emits far less sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter than gas and coal, over the life-cycle, the report says.

The report says: “It is now clear that concern over the effects on health of the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi have been overestimated. There has been no serious casualty from the radiation and none is expected in the future.”

The report also says rules based on radiation exposure levels are too restrictive and “new tolerance of more realistic radiation exposure levels would bring large cost savings to any nuclear programme, without compromising people’s safety”.

The report says the UK needs to replace nuclear reactors that are coming to the end of their lives in order to “fill the large energy gap that gas and renewables may not be sufficient to fill”.

The biggest hurdle to a programme of new nuclear power plants in the UK is finance and several measures should be taken to ease the obstacles for investors in new nuclear.

“A long-term government-backed financial indemnity would have a major impact on lowering the cost of capital which today is the most important input cost to nuclear power”, the report says.

The report is online:

27 Jun (NucNet)

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