UK Battle Over Nuclear Power

With electricity prices skyrocketing and dependence on Russian oil in disrepute, the U.K. is scrambling to come up with a new energy strategy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a crash program of nuclear power development, but he is encountering resistance within his own administration:

Boris Johnson is privately frustrated with Rishi Sunak over the Chancellor’s apparent resistance to the Prime Minister’s push for a dramatic increase in the number of nuclear power plants in Britain, The Telegraph can disclose.

Government sources said Mr Sunak’s refusal to endorse the Prime Minister’s “big bet” on a radical expansion of the Government’s plans for nuclear power risked derailing a key element of the energy security strategy promised by Mr Johnson earlier this month.

Mr Johnson is understood to be frustrated that Mr Sunak appears reluctant to embrace a “dash to nuclear” that the Prime Minister believes is needed to shore up Britain’s energy supplies long-term in the face of a crisis fueled by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Currently, the U.K.’s existing nuclear power plants, with one exception, are slated to be decommissioned by 2030. Johnson wants to reverse that policy with a bold expansion of both large and small nuclear plants. Absurdly, the Environment Minister opposes nuclear power on the ground of cost:

Last year, Lord Goldsmith warned that nuclear was “the most expensive form of energy in the history of energy” – a criticism that Mr Johnson appeared to tackle head on last week.

Nuclear power is vastly less expensive than wind and solar. And under a sensible regulatory regime, nuclear power may be the least expensive form of energy in the history of energy.

This battle over nuclear power is being waged around the world, or soon will be. In my opinion, there is no good reason to stop using coal and natural gas to generate electricity. But if one takes the anti-CO2 theories seriously, then the only sane–i.e., reliable–alternative is nuclear power. The logic behind nuclear energy is so compelling that its increasing adoption seems inevitable, and one hopes that it will accelerate on account of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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