It says renewable energy is quick to build and is abundant and cheap to harvest. It is also flexible, safe, secure and climate friendly.
sees nuclear subsidy as bar to full use of renewables

Renewable power, particularly
schemes where thousands of homes have their own microgenerators for heat
and electricity, are a far cheaper way of meeting the UK’s energy needs and
combating climate change than nuclear stations, says a report out today.

The New Economics
Foundation, a radical thinktank, compares the costs of nuclear energy and
renewables, their contribution to the economy, and security of electricity
supply for Britain.

It says renewable
energy is quick to build and is abundant and cheap to harvest. It is also
flexible, safe, secure and climate friendly.

‘The opposite
conclusion is only possible if renewable energy technologies are negatively
misrepresented and if the numerous weaknesses, high costs and unsolved problems
of nuclear power are glossed over.’

The report
is published in a week that the government has decided to encourage microgeneration
in homes, offices and for whole streets of houses.

The foundation
report says such a new industry would create more jobs, with cheaper and faster
results than nuclear energy.

also do not leave a legacy of radioactive waste that endures in the environment
for tens of thousands of years,’ the report adds.

One great
plus of micro-power is that it produces electricity at the point of use so
there is no need for large-scale grid connections and the 10% losses in transmission
associated with big power plants.

The report
says 1m new gas-fired boilers are installed every year in the UK. If half
these boilers micro-combined heat and power they would produce the equivalent
electricity of a new power station each year, removing the need for new large-scale
power plants.

The other
advantage of micro-power, which uses solar, wind, hydropower and tides, depending
on location, is that it provides security of supply, since it uses such a
variety of sources, the report says. Surplus electricity generated can be
put into the local grid.

The report
estimates that the probable net benefit to the UK of micro-generation would
be £35m a year, mainly because the generators use little or no fuel.

The report
calls on the government to withdraw the subsidies to nuclear power which ‘feather-bed’
its prospects. So that renewables can reach their full potential, public
support for renewables should rise to match the levels historically enjoyed
by nuclear power.

The government
should have supported a recent private member’s bill which would have set
targets for renewables by area and removed planning restraints for rooftop
wind turbines and other household micro-power.

The report
says an unacknowledged benefit of microgeneration is that it puts people back
in touch with where energy comes from, and the need to live in balance with
the ecosystems on which we all depend.

‘It is possible
that nuclear power has only survived for as long as it has because its true
costs have been hidden from us, and because its radioactive emissions are
invisible,’ the report says.

The costs
of renewable energy vary enormously, with onshore wind and landfill gas being
the cheapest, though many still in the earlier stages of development are far
more expensive than fossil fuels.

The nuclear
industry’s estimates of the cost of building new reactors, at 3p a kilowatt
hour, are wild underestimates, according to the report. It calculates the
price, based on past performance, delays and cost overruns, as up to 8p/kw
hour, excluding insurance, pollution and the risk of terrorism.

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