City research shows the investment and health risks of new nuclear build are low

Jan 05, 2012

As part of The SPRing Report published in December 2011, Professor Philip Thomas of the Risk Management, Reliability and Maintenance Group within City's Systems and Control Centre provided comparative analysis of the costs and safety considerations associated with nuclear, renewable and traditional, fossil fuel-based energy options.

Two analysis techniques were used, beginning with the "real options" method, which provides an objective basis for judging when it is reasonable to invest in competing products, when their future price has a high degree of uncertainty. This projected that is expected to become competitive on a cost-basis with gas-powered electricity in 2015, while it will take until 2032 and 2040 for onshore and offshore wind power to reach the same point*.

Secondly, the "J-value" framework was adopted. Developed at City, it offers a common, objective scale to assess the risks posed to human health by various technologies and the amount of money that might reasonably be spent to eliminate them.

This was used to assess the impact that future built from 2010 to 2070 would have on human mortality, taking the entire fuel supply chain and construction, operation and decommissioning into account**. The research also examined whether health risks would be: posed to industry staff or the general public; immediate or delayed; and due to ongoing operations or major accidents.

Explaining the outcomes, Professor Thomas says: " has the highest impact compared with other technologies, mainly as a result of the widespread effect of pollution emissions. Nuclear has the lowest impact, followed by gas and onshore and offshore wind.

"This may seem surprising to some people, but are generally small, require low volumes of fuel and produce large amounts of energy. This mitigates against many of the safety and environmental risks that are posed by or the large-scale production of steel for the high number of wind turbines needed, for example.

"Even when being most pessimistic about the effects of radiation globally, including after large nuclear accidents, the impact of nuclear power is still lower than or comparable with those from gas and wind."

The SPRing Report includes these findings along with other technical, economic, environmental, social and ethical recommendations. These are designed to help government and industry make long-term policy and investment decisions about nuclear power and its place in the wider UK energy mix. It can be downloaded at www.springsustainability.org .

Explore further: Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

More information: Thomas, P. and N. Chrysanthou (2012). Using Real Options to Compare the Economics of Nuclear and Wind Power with Electricity from Natural Gas. Nuclear Energy. Special issue of J of Power and Energy. In press.

Kearns, J., et al(2012). Comparative Risk Analysis of Electricity Generating Systems Using the J-Value Framework. Nuclear Energy. Special Issue of J of Power and Energy. In press.

Provided by City University London

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How sustainable is nuclear power for the UK?

Dec 08, 2011

The research into the sustainability of nuclear and other electricity options in the UK shows that nuclear power could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. However, that would require ...

Rebalancing the nuclear debate through education

Sep 09, 2011

Better physics teaching with a particular emphasis on radioactivity and radiation science could improve public awareness through education of the environmental benefits and relative safety of nuclear power generation, according ...

Is nuclear power fair for future generations?

May 05, 2011

The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima Daiichi in Japan has brought the nuclear debate to the forefront of controversy. While Japan is trying to avert further disaster, many nations are reconsidering the future of nuclear ...

Recycling wind turbines

Sep 21, 2007

The development of wind power promises much in terms of providing us with renewable energy for the future and wind turbines could be the most effective way to harness that power. Danish researchers now suggest that in order ...

Nuclear cannibals

Mar 04, 2008

Nuclear energy production must increase by more than 10 percent each year from 2010 to 2050 to meet all future energy demands and replace fossil fuels, but this is an unsustainable prospect. According to a report published ...

Report: Nuclear power investment should not be delayed

Mar 30, 2011

The UK can realise a £10 billion economic opportunity through adopting a new, holistic approach to nuclear energy that would tackle concerns over security of energy supply, rising oil prices and safety ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

7 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

7 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

13 hours ago

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 0