A monthly reality-check on the issues Americans care about most. Host Warren Olney draws on his decades of experience to explore the people and issues shaping – and disrupting - our world. How did everything change so fast? Where are we headed?...
Manage episode 285977678 series 2690047
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The UK has made a legally binding commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. Boris Johnson recently released a 10-point green plan, which included the claim that all UK households will be powered by wind energy by 2030. The UK Committee on Climate Change has recommended a big expansion of wind and solar but says that up to 40% of electricity in 2050 will need to be firm, low carbon...which means either gas or biomass with carbon capture, or else nuclear. They've also suggested electricity demand will double from now to 2050. While today 18% of UK electricity is supplied by nuclear, almost all of this will disappear by 2030 as the advanced gas reactor fleet is retired this decade. Indeed, of today's electricity generation, none will be on the grid in 2050 except possibly Sizewell B. Gas and wind are growing to dominate the grid with an unhealthy serving of biomass (fuelled by wood pellets imported from the US). 120 GW each of wind and solar are being contemplated to meet climate goals but will result in 500 sq miles of solar farms needing to be built in the densely populated "sunny" south of England and 24,000 5MW offshore wind turbines. The UK enjoys bipartisan support for nuclear power but has committed to private financing with its only new nuclear build financed with a 9% interest rate. Cost remains a serious concern. As Tim Stone, chairman of the UK NIA, has said: "Only two numbers matter in nuclear construction: capital cost and the cost of capital.' Some institutional investors are resportedly shunning the proposed Sizewell C nuclear project, citing uncertainty over environmental, social and corporate governance concerns. However, the UK government is now in negotiations with EDF to find a financing model that reduces the cost of finance and leads to a better deal for consumers. This is likely to involve more government support than previous projects. I am joined by David Watson, a nuclear safety engineer from the UK, to discuss this and more. David has over 10 years' experience in consulting supporting the operation, construction and decommissioning of nuclear power plants. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Generation Atomic blog recently started an instagram channel called atomic trends, which he refers to as the "nuclear dream factory".