London embracing nuclear power

Oct. 14, 2011 at 10:35 AM
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LONDON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Nuclear energy should play a role in the future energy mix for Great Britain in part because it makes economic sense, the British energy minister said.

British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told delegates at the noted Royal Society nuclear energy will play a strong role in the future energy mix for the country.

The meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sparked by a 9-magnitde earthquake and tsunami in March, prompted the international community to take another look at the safety of nuclear energy. Germany has already decided to phase out nuclear energy from its grid.

Yet Huhne said he remained optimistic, especially in the wake of a British review of the Fukushima disaster.

"Nuclear energy has risks, but we face the greater risk of accelerating climate change if we do not embark on another generation of nuclear power," he said in his remarks. "Time is running out."

In terms of financing, he said nuclear energy costs around $100 per megawatt hour, compared with $200 per megawatt hour for offshore wind. Those figures, he said, include the cost of waste and decommissioning.

The International Atomic Energy Agency had said it expected a slow growth rate for nuclear energy following Japan's disaster. Huhne, however, said London would continue to embrace nuclear power for the foreseeable future.

"So with my eyes open, and with a nervous look at the past, I say that we need nuclear to be a part of our energy mix in the future," he said.

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