The government has declared that nuclear power will take a more prominent place within our energy transition plans. Boris Johnson has declared that the UK aims to generate 25% of the country’s electricity by 2050.
Nuclear energy has been pushed as a reliable source of energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear power is not dependent on weather conditions. This means that nuclear power can create a predictable steady output of energy. So, if the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing then we would still be able to generate a steady output of energy.
One issue with nuclear power plants could be that they may take a big investment to build. For example, the newest nuclear energy scheme is estimated to cost around 20 bn. However, in the long term they are relatively inexpensive to run. The power plants can also generate energy for many years as they have a long life span.
Nuclear power has become a popular idea to help us reach net-zero as a country by 2050. However, it is being pushed a lot more now as the government has decided this could be one way to help us reach better energy security in the light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The UK has plans to be completely free of Russian oil and nuclear energy could be one way to get us there.
The government has recently unveiled plans to invest 20% in the Sizewell C powerplant which is estimated to cost around $20 bn, this is the same amount that EDF a French energy supplier is also investing in the project. This comes as the government is due to publish a British energy security strategy. Moving towards domestic nuclear power will be crucial for the UK to establish a stand-alone energy policy as we move away from Russian oil and gas supplies.
Although nuclear power is renewable and eco-friendly some issues could be concerning with nuclear power. One issue could be the waste that is produced by doing so. When nuclear power first started being used in the 1990s there was a vast amount of toxic waste that is still an issue to this day as there is nowhere to safely dispose of it. Therefore, some experts are worried that new nuclear facilities will only add to current issues with this. Many people are pushing for nuclear disposal facilities to become available before new nuclear plans go ahead.
Although it may seem like 25% of energy being generated by nuclear power will make energy bills cheaper this may not be the case for now. In the short term, there is going to be no difference in energy bills as none of the new nuclear proposals are likely to deliver electricity to the grid for around a decade.
Below are some further advantages and disadvantages of using nuclear power:
- Extremely reliable
- Create jobs- although building new power plants may mean a hit in money, it will create more jobs in the long run and could help to support the economy.
- Clean energy source- nuclear power doesn’t generate greenhouse gasses when providing energy.
- Low operation costs
- Constructing power plants-this requires a lot of investment and can take many years.
- Time- it could take decades before enough electricity is being generated to power 25% of the national grid.
- Environmental impact
- High risk- there could be nuclear accidents
- Radioactive waste