Électricité de France and the UK Government have officially agreed to build a new nuclear power plant. This is the first construction of its kind to begin since 1988.
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The new plant, named Hinkley Point C, has seen heavy investments from emerging economies such as China, in addition to recovering economies such as Japan. These investments are needed to fund the £16 billion power plant.
As expected, many UK citizens are not happy about this new deal for a number of reasons.
Critics have claimed that rather investing in unsafe and relatively outdated nuclear energy, the government should be focusing on more innovative and promising forms of clean energy.
Nuclear energy does not have a good reputation, and disasters have occurred often in different parts of the world due to factory malfunctions. In 1979 in the United States, one of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactors malfunctioned. Luckily in that instance, the disruption was due to a coolant leak and not due to other, more toxic substances.
Less than 10 years later the world’s largest nuclear disaster occurred in Ukraine at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The power plant exploded and caught fire causing highly toxic and radioactive material to be released into the air. Many speculate that this was caused by a flaw in the design of the plan. An initial 31 deaths were reported by the Soviet Union although many doubt that this is an accurate number and they estimate it cause approximately 100 deaths – a number that does not include the deaths caused by cancer due to radiation exposure. In addition, this catastrophe contaminated surrounding vegetation and wild life.
In more recent history, in 2011, Japan suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. A massive 300,000 people were evacuated from the area and a total of 1,600 individuals died.
The dangers of building a new nuclear power plant remain and the general population are aware and worried.
This is the first time in history that the British taxpayer’s money is not included in building a nuclear power plant. EDF and the UK Government have been in talks over pricing for over a year and yesterday the price was revealed. Each megawatt hour of energy produced by the plant will cost £92.50 – which is double the current market price. As a result the largest six current suppliers of energy have already increased their prices, some by almost 10%.
This has raised concerns across the UK, with a particular focus on low income families.
Although the deal will not be finalised until next year, it seems that UK residents will have to endure higher prices until they can reap the rewards from this project.
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