Objections to the ongoing reliance on nuclear reactors have been dismissed by industry experts who endorse this means of generating electricity, despite concerns raised over the planned Hinckley Point development.
According to a panel of researchers and other industry professionals, nuclear reactors continue to generate power without jeopardising safety. However recent closures this year have raised concern about their longevity.
“Reactors could not go on forever, but have to be reviewed every 10 years to ensure their safety,” said the former chief nuclear regulator, Professor Laurence Williams.
Williams highlighted the industry’s focus on technical competence, safety culture and regulations as a reason for guaranteeing nuclear future in the UK’s energy mix.
Andrew Sherry, professor and director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute, emphasised however that new nuclear power stations “will start coming on-stream to replace the current sites”.
As E&T news reported last month, one of these nuclear plant projects is Hinckley Point in Somerset. France’s EDF was chosen to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in decades as part of a £16bn deal late last year.
The UK government is currently carrying out a progress assessment looking into the one-year delays announced by EDF.
"We constantly monitor investment projects to make sure they're delivered on time and within budget," said a spokeswoman from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
"EDF Energy have opened their books to allow our expert external advisers to challenge and verify the projected costs of constructing, operating and decommissioning the power station, but this is nothing new."
The development of EPR reactors – a third-generation pressurised water reactor design – has been beset with delays. Construction on the first EPR in Olkiluoto, Finland, started in 2005 and it had originally been scheduled to go live in 2009, but that is now expected to happen in late 2018.
But a spokesman for EDF said the British assessment was a normal process that the government followed for all investment projects, and was not specific to Hinkley Point.