Emerging From Darkness: Britain’s Mass Blackout Drives Push For Ever-Reliable Nuclear Power

It’s amazing how quickly millions of minds left freezing or boiling in the dark focus on the importance of having power as and when it’s needed.

Wind and solar obsessed South Australians set the benchmark for blackouts and mass load shedding.

Now the UK and had its first taste of the kind of grid chaos inevitably delivered when you pin your hopes on the weather. The idea that a modern economy can power itself on sunshine and breezes is nonsense. Not so with ever-reliable nuclear power.

There are around 450 nuclear reactors operating in 30 countries around the world, 15 countries are currently building another 60 reactors and their combined output accounts for over 11% of global electricity production – compared with total global output from wind which, to the nearest decimal point, is zero. And all without so much as a hiccup.

Having worked out that wind power will never work, British MPs are pointing to a power generation solution which has always worked, and which always will – 24/7, whatever the weather.

Tories plan mini-nuclear reactors for the North in major change to energy policy
Ben Glaze
12 August 2019

A series of mini-nuclear reactors could be built across the North in a major power scheme.

Plants could generate energy in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire under a project spearheaded by Rolls-Royce for “small modular reactors”.

The Government is pumping in £18million so the firm can develop the design of the reactors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to formally announce the plan in September and the first plant could be up and running within the next 15 years.

“These new mini nuclear reactors would be concentrated across the North — and plans are in motion to place them in the Sheffield city region, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire,” a Government source told the Times.

“Nuclear is clean and a way of reducing the UK’s carbon footprint on a large scale.”

The reactors would trigger a jobs bonanza, with 40,000 posts expected to be created.

Each power station could generate enough energy to fuel 750,000 homes, according to estimates by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: “There is market ready technology available globally which can be put together with the UK supply chain, with us having what is needed to build them here in the Northern Powerhouse alongside investing in a large factory which this support will help us to achieve.

“Work undertaken by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has shown what can be achieved; ensuring that we build up our capabilities and all the resulting economic benefits of the jobs being here in making them.

“Our upcoming energy industrial strategy for the Northern Powerhouse will focus heavily on SMRs, fulfilling the promise of when George Osborne back in 2015 committed the funds to establish the UK as a leader in what was then an emerging area globally.”

Supporters say nuclear power is clean, efficient and renewable.

But critics believe it is too expensive, takes too long to clean up and the risks involved are too great.

Rolls-Royce’s website says: “At every point in the development of our UK SMR solution, we have sought to take a modular approach to drive down the cost of electricity to as low as practically possible, whilst at the same time building in multiple layers of fault prevention and protection to make sure the technology is safe in all modes of operation.”

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said: “The Sheffield City Region is superbly placed to support the development of small modular reactors technology.

“We can play a leading role in meeting the challenges of climate change while helping to keep the lights on.”

French firm EDF is building a £20billion nuke plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The Treasury struck a deal with the company that means the UK will pay £92.50 per megawatt-hour, roughly twice the current market rate.

EDF wants to build another station at Sizewell in Suffolk, which could cost £16billion.

The need for new power sources in Britain has provoked huge rows over the direction of policy in the UK.

Environmental campaigners want a greater focus on renewables such as solar, wind and tidal.

Last Friday, nearly a million people were hit by a major power cut across large areas of England and Wales, affecting homes and transport networks during the evening rush hour.

The National Grid blamed problems with two power generators as blackouts were reported across the Midlands, the South East, South West and North East of England, and Wales.

Industry experts said a gas-fired power station at Little Barford, Beds, failed first followed two minutes later by the Hornsea offshore wind farm disconnecting from the grid.

Nuclear: the reaction to chaotic wind power.

5 thoughts on “Emerging From Darkness: Britain’s Mass Blackout Drives Push For Ever-Reliable Nuclear Power

  1. Small modular reactors are new and shiny and exciting, but not a good choice. In every realistic cost estimate I’ve seen, they have much higher capital costs per MW capacity than conventional nuclear reactors. Instead of pushing this off fifteen years, waiting for RR to get it’s act together and possibly milking the contract, why not just build more EPRs? Build on experience at Hinkley and get on the right end of the learning curve.

    It’s silly to wait for future nuclear technology. What we have now is good enough and we need it now.

  2. The snag is that the R-R SMR will not improve on the capital cost of Sizewell C – £5000/kW. But GE-Hitachi have just moved the COD for their 300 MW SMR, the BWRX-300, forward from 2030 to 2028. This means by 2031/32, it will be available at US$2000/kW – £1650/kW. That’s just 1/3rd of the capital cost of the R-R SMR.

    It’s sure to be made available for manufacture in the UK under licence and the BEIS, R-R and its Associates should be preparing the ground to do just that instead of pursuing their much more expensive design.

    144 BWRX-300s could supply all of the 340 TWh of electricity the UK uses each year, in the low-carbon, pollution-free, 24/7 form, for a capital cost of just £71 billion. A reasonably ‘sensible’ combination of wind, solar and backup – not too dissimilar to how the CCC’s recommendations will work out – has a capital cost of £527 billion.

    This is the dark side uf capital cost that the obfuscating renewables industry cannot argue against. The waste of precious materials and resources, the scenic degradation, ecosystem destruction, species wipe-out and waste mountains.

    The younger members of our families will pay so much more for no gain – just keeping the lights on, keeping warm and cooking the dinner. Lifestyle choices – holidays; eating out – down the tube; along with jobs in the travelling and catering industries. The green-jobs-fallacy hurts us all.

    Search for: “uk low-carbon electricity gold medal”

  3. Intermittent renewable energy is three times (or more with battery backup if viable) the cost on average than Fossil fuel equivalents – especially coal, the best source for reliable base load. Why on earth would you elect to go nuclear which is four times more expensive and leaves potentially massive legacy issues. It’s all down to this belief driven Global Warming lobbyists agenda based on scientifically questionable and empirically unsubstantiated but politically motivated IPCC. In short, we’re going to pay massively in the west with way over-priced and unreliable power.

    1. Douglas, you’re in the UK, which killed its coal industry. Your once coal fired plants are running on wood shipped from the US. You’ve built a huge capacity in intermittent wind and just suffered your first South Australia moment, with a mass blackout. A few more of those and every blacked out Brit will be begging for ever reliable nuclear. By the way, France gets 75% of its power from nuclear plants and consumers pay a fraction of what you’re paying, and pay half of what wind powered South Australians pay for their power.

  4. The BBC were reporting today on their 6pm TV bulletin that the lightning strike occurred first, then the wind farm went down followed by the gas power plant.

    They were also reporting the role batteries played in bringing things back online.


    I think the point is is that the grid shouldn’t have gone down in the first place! What if a terrorist attack had occurred in those dark underground tunnels?

    I guess it will all come out in the investigation. But I don’t think the London rail commuters would have been very impressed.


    Good to see new nuclear technology being discussed.

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