One of the issues on Mersea at the moment is the proposed installation of a new nuclear reactor at Bradwell, just across the water from us. As you can imagine, this has raised a lot of strong emotions. What I want to do in a series of posts is explore some of the different aspects to this question before, eventually, coming off the fence on the issue myself. Part of the reason for writing is, of course, to work out exactly what I think.
So why is the government looking to build new nuclear power stations? Because it has belatedly realised that there is a looming energy crisis and, if it doesn't build new power stations, a lot of people will be trying to function without electricity in the near future.
One of those nice colourful pictures that I like so much:
This shows the amount of nuclear generating capacity that is expected to go 'off-line' over the next decade or so. Simply to maintain a power supply equivalent to what we have today we need to find some 8GW of generation capacity. Of course, the 'equivalent to what we have today' understates the issue. I've talked about the gas situation here, but it is also worth mentioning that a number of coal-fired power stations are due to close by 2015 due to European legislation. Even if we ignore the problematic nature of depending on fossil fuels over the coming decades, we are facing a shortfall of generating capacity. Which is why the Government indicated in 2006 that they would look to build some new nuclear power stations, as part of the requirement to generate some 25GW of new capacity.
This is the first reason why the government is looking at expanding the number of nuclear power stations.