Posted by Suzanna Hinson

The need to reduce carbon emissions whilst maintaining a supply of reliable energy to allow nations to continue to develop is undisputed. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment report’s least-emissions pathway (RCP 2.6 or lower) requires fossil fuel production to be phased out by mid century. What is disputed is whether certain technologies can be up-scaled to meet demand on this timescale. Nuclear power is one of the few technologies that can supply a base load alternative to fossil fuels whilst also being zero-carbon once constructed and producing no air pollution. However, current delays with contemporary “one of a kind” reactors have made many write nuclear off as an option to rapidly expand and provide a sustainable, fossil fuel free future.

A new article from PLoS has undermined this pessimistic view. By studying historical data of the growth of the Swedish and French nuclear programs from the 1960s to 1990s the authors modeled a range of scenarios for the deployment of new nuclear reactors. Their conclusion: if the world were to build nuclear reactors at the same rate as these historical programs, then coal and gas electricity could be replaced in less than a decade. Even the more conservative models (taking into account differing relative economic output across regions, varying construction time and costs, future electricity demand growth forecasts and the need to retire existing aging nuclear plants) predict that fossil fuel electricity could be replaced in 25-34 years.

Such a replacement would have a huge impact on global carbon emissions and averting dangerous climate change. The paper shows that the installation of nuclear power in Sweden between 1972 and 1986, reduced the country’s CO2 per capita emissions by 75%, a figure that according to the World Bank is the most rapid installation of low-CO2 electricity capacity on a per capita basis of any nation in history.

Planning for a decarbonised future, as is currently happening at the Paris COP, is a process littered with uncertainty and speculation. But this paper, with projections grounded in reality and actual historical experience, highlights that nuclear should not be disregarded and provides one of the best options for real progress in the fight to replace fossil fuels and mitigate climate change.


  1. Colin Megson says:

    “….We established our new team; Stephen Tindale joined as director….. Stephen has been advocating nuclear in the media and at conferences around Europe….”

    “…Three prominent environmentalists, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall, have written “yes, we are pro-nuclear, but not at any price”. Hinkley, they argue, is too high a price to pay….”

    “….,Our Director Stephen Tindale has echoed these sentiments. He believes that the contract with EDF energy to build an EPR at Hinkley is reasonable, despite its high, costs, because the plant would provide 7% of UK electricity: carbon and air pollutant free….”

    Weinberg Next Nuclear – advocating nuclear in the media. And then I can copy and paste sentiments like the above from different pages on your website.

    I’ve tried find a diplomatic adjective to describe the intervention of the three amigos plus Mr Tindale, but it keeps coming back round to stupid.

    It’s stupid because none of these pro-nuclear gentlemen have done the simplest bit of arithmetic to find out what you get for what you pay. No ! – they just keep trumpeting the media mantra – ‘Hinkley is Soooo expensive’.

    Gentlemen, and everybody at Weinberg Next Nuclear, please be advised that:

    Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant will deliver over 1.5 Trillion kWh of low-carbon electricity. This is 78% more than all of the 6,650 wind turbines in the entire UK wind farm fleet will deliver.

    My estimate is that all of those wind turbines cost £30.6 billion, which is 25% more expensive than Hinkley. So to get the same delivery of electricity as Hinkley would cost £54.5 billion.

    The next time you feel like commenting on just how expensive Hinkley is, would you please consider adding a bit of context – for the money needed for wind turbines to deliver the same amount of electricity as Hinkley, you could get 2 Hinkleys and a bit of change.

    Details at:

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