I’ve written numerous posts pointing out that expansion of nuclear power is not a serious option in decarbonizing the electricity supply. In a sense, there’s no need to make the case, as no profit-oriented corporation is ever likely to start a new plant. The recent abandonment of two proposed plants in the UK, despite the offer of massive subsidies, illustrates the point. The only purpose of talk about new nuclear power is to attack the only realistic options, wind and solar PV.
On the other hand, nuclear power is a lot less dangerous than coal. So, it’s worrying to see nuclear power plants closing down in the US and elsewhere, when there are plenty of coal-fired power plants still in operation. The worse case is Germany, where the phaseout of nuclear power has left lots of lignite-fuelled power stations still in operation.
The sensible policy is first, to abandon any idea of closing nuclear power stations by direct regulation and second, to impose a substantial carbon price, putting coal-fired power stations first in the “order of demerit” for closure.
Of course, none of this is relevant to Australia, where the big problem is that our ancient and dirty coal-fired stations are being kept alive by the anti-renewable stance of the LNP. Contrary their claims of being more reliable than renewables they routinely break down when most needed.
We need a carbon price, but in the short term the goal must be to shut down the oldest coal-fired plants and replace them with a crash program of renewable generation, publicly and privately owned.