Small or atomic? Comparing the finances of nuclear and micro-generated energy

Small or atomic? Comparing the finances of nuclear and micro-generated energy


This report compares the costs of nuclear power and micro-generation and argues for radically increased investment in small-scale solutions.
 
Most nuclear power plants in the UK will reach the end of their working life over the next twenty years, removing around a quarter of the UK’s electricity generation capacity. Replacing this capacity with new nuclear stations would involve investment of at least £10 billion to construct new stations, and further costs for fuel, maintenance, waste and decommissioning.
 
£10 billion represents a substantial investment in electricity generation capacity. Before any decision about new nuclear plant is made, the opportunity cost of any investment should be considered. Would the money be better spent elsewhere? The closure of nuclear stations, and the need to invest in electricity generation, could be seen as a window of opportunity for other technologies and approaches to energy generation. It offers the opportunity to move to a more flexible, decentralised model of energy generation, as envisaged in the Energy White Paper.
 
This paper assesses the cost implications of different approaches. Firstly, it surveys the costs involved in building and running a new fleet of nuclear stations. It then looks at the costs of three forms of ‘micro-generation’ - micro combined-heat-and-power, small-scale wind power and solar photovoltaics. For all the technologies surveyed, cost estimates are drawn from a range of government, industry and academic sources. Lastly, it compares the costs of nuclear power and micro-generation, and argues for radically increased investment in small-scale solutions.
 
Author(s):
Rebecca Willis, Alan Whitehead
Publication Date:
6 June, 2005
ISBN:
0 9549757 3 1
Cost:
Free
Theme:

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