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Britain's Nuclear Future

23 Jun 2012
Aerial shot of a nuclear power plant

Clean, cheap and safe. These words are not often linked with nuclear power. But they accurately describe a vital baseload energy supply.

This report sets out a positive case for nuclear energy and explains why IoD members are so strongly in favour of a new nuclear programme in Britain.

Nuclear power is clean:

  • IoD calculations, averaging out the findings of a number of studies, show that life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear are around 50 tonnes per GWh, compared with nearly 500 tonnes from gas and over 900 tonnes from coal.
  • Nuclear also emits far less Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide and particulate matter than gas and coal, over the life-cycle.

Nuclear power is relatively cheap, when costs are levelised over a lifetime:

  • For a 2017 project start, including the impact of a rising carbon price, levelised costs are projected to be around £70/MWh for nuclear, £95/MWh for gas,£130/MWh for coal, £145/MWh for onshore wind and £180/MWh for offshore wind.
  • Excluding a carbon price, gas and coal are the cheapest energy sources, at £60-70/MWh, although nuclear is not far behind.

And nuclear power is safe:

  • According to estimates from the European Commission and the Paul Scherrer Institute, nuclear is the safest electricity generation technology, with a death rate of 0-0.2 per gigawatt year of electricity generated, compared with 0.2 per gigawatt year for wind, 0.1-0.4 for gas, 0-0.8 for hydro, 1.4 for peat and biomass, 2.2 for lignite, 2.8 for coal and 4.1 for oil.
  • It is now clear that concern over the effects on health of the accident at Fukushima have been overestimated. There has been no serious casualty from the radiation and none is expected in the future, a view further supported by newly published work at MIT.

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