Extremely costly – UK’s nuclear wastes

Recommend that you go to this link, as the page has many very informative graphics.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/16/nuclear-waste-sellafield How much do we spend on nuclear waste? Duncan Clark guardian.co.uk,  16 November 2012 Last week, a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO)highlighted the spiralling costs of running Sellafield, the UK’s huge nuclear
reprocessing and storage site. Duncan Clark reviews the data

How much do we spend on nuclear decommissioning and waste handling?

According to Decc’s 2012/13 budget, taken from its 2012–15 business
plan, dealing with “nuclear legacy” issues costs around £2.5 billion a
year, more than 42% of Decc’s total budget. Of that, around £1.6
billion is spent on managing the various plants and storage facilities
atSellafield, the huge site in Cumbria which is home to the
radioactive remains of nuclear weapons and energy programmes dating
more than half a century. Sellafield employs 9231 people, according to
a newNational Audit Office (NAO) report.
How much will Sellafield cost going forward?

The NAO anticipates the total future costs for decommissioning
Sellafield, over a century or so, will be £67 billion. This has risen
from £47 billion since 2009 – a remarkable rise in just three years.
(Note that the costs would look lower if a discount rate was applied
to reflect the fact that the money will be spent over many decades.)
What does all this mean for the cost of nuclear energy?

Although the costs of Sellafield relate mainly to handling waste from
old nuclear projects – including postwar weapons programmes – the
NAO’s report begs the question of whether cost estimates for
decommissioning future nuclear power plants may also have been
underestimated. Whether that’s true is impossible to know, though a
glance at the figures suggests that even if decommissioning and waste
disposal costs for future plants were two or three times higher than
current government estimates, that wouldn’t significantly change the
economics of new nuclear plants.

Decc’s assumptions about the costs of different power sources are
based on a report by Mott MacDonald, which estimates their total cost
including up-front capital, fuel use and eventual decommissioning.
Here are the estimates it gives for a selection of common
technologies; for the full list see page 7-2 of the report.
These figures are the subject of heated debate. Solar advocates point
out that PV prices are dropping like a stone while nuclear costs are
rising – and that solar should really be compared to the retail rather
than the wholesale price of electricity, as it delivers power straight
to the end user. On the other hand, nuclear advocates argue that a
unit of reliable ‘baseload’ nuclear energy is worth more than a unit
of intermittent wind or solar.

Those debates aside, rising decommissioning costs would be unlikely to
change the comparisons significantly, because in the Mott MacDoland
report only around £2.50 of the estimated £96–98 total cost of
generating a megawatt hour from new nuclear plants is earmarked for
decommissioning and waste disposal.

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