Kingsnorth is dead, long live Nuclear

Drax coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire: a Victorian relic
Drax coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire (Flickr user: Jonobass)

Great news today for eco warriors everywhere – E.ON have pushed back their plans for the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant by three years. As a result, the project will not be completed until 2016, if at all. The German electricity company cite the state of the economic market as their reason, but they are callous not to acknowledge the impact of Green protest groups such as Greenpeace and Climate Camp.

Kingsnorth has long been seen as a symbol of backward-thinking policy, and this delay will be celebrated as a huge victory, mainly because it makes the project all the less likely to ever be completed. If E.ON think the conditions for building a coal-fired power station are bad now, then enthusiasm for burning fossil fuels is unlikely to improve in seven years time as we approach peak oil. For Green activists, this should be seen as evidence that protesting and lobbying does work and can make an impact on multi-national corporations, just don’t expect them to admit that you’ve won.

Many will be sceptical of the impact that Greenpeace and Climate Camp have had and claim that global economic factors play a much larger role  in these decisions. Even if this is true, it should still provide encouragement for environmental protesters. Recent predictions suggest that the recession has resulted in a 3% global reduction of greenhouse gases. There has never been a better time to drive home the point that there are cheap, workable and cleaner ways of producing electricity. The time and effort spent on Kingsnorth could have been much better spent researching alternatives. E.ON claims to be leading the charge in developing Nuclear power to tackle the global threat of climate change (their words, not mine), now they need to put their money where their mouth is and give up on Kingsnorth for good. Coal is dead and should be resigned to the Victorian age.

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6 thoughts on “Kingsnorth is dead, long live Nuclear

  1. Glad to see that you care about YOUR future- and that of your neice. This century has to balance the risks and benefits of 20c advance. It needs people who care and persuade. The next election debate will establish the values of a generation- The Who said it better than me. He who cares lives!

  2. Did you know that there is now technology for carbon capture coal power stations so that there are no bad emissions releases (don’t you admire by technical language!) The first one is I believe due to be built in Yorkshire and will be attached to a mine that is also there I believe. Perhaps such technology will become more widespread and would be an alternative to dirty coal or dangerous nuclear?

  3. Yeah, I heard about that on the 6 O’clock news last night. Apparently Kingsnorth might’ve been a test site for Carbon Capute and Storage (CCS). But many have claimed that clean coal is a myth and won’t solve anything. http://www.thedirtylie.com/

  4. My Dad actually has been working on this project in Yorkshire. The difference I think is that other sites a retrospectively fitted onto existing systems whereas this would be different because the technology or whatever it is is built in. I don’t actually understand how it work but I believe if done this way it will work.

  5. Carbon capture is out there… but i’m pro nuclear – especially now there’re rumours of being able to slash the halflives of the waste to timescales of around a decade! Woooo!

  6. I’m sorry Chris I feel compelled to write a response to this article, as belated as it may be.

    Although the protesters may have had a small impact on the decision not to build a new station in at Kingsnorth would only have been an incredibly small impact.

    The greater impact would have come from the u-turn by the government with regards to carbon capture and storage (CCS) and new build ‘dirty’ power stations.

    Initially the proposal was for a much more efficient coal power station (~50% compared with the current one which is ~38%) with the ability to ‘bolt on’ a CCS plant once the technology had been proven on an industrial scale. This would have cost ~£6 billion. However, the government changed their mind and declared that all new build coal power stations need to be fitted the CCS as soon as they are put into service. This doubles the cost of the initial capital expenditure to ~£12 billion and reduces the efficiency of the plant back down to ~38%. This is all without the help of any government funding that had been promised in the past. So e.on would have had to spend twice as much money to get a plant that is essentially no more efficient than current plants (granted it would emit no CO2) and to stay competetive it would have to not increase their electricity prices. This extends the repayment period of the investment to very close to the end of the predicted life of the plant – rendering the investment not worthwhile.

    This is without mentioning the fact that although CCS technology does exist, the capture part has only been proven on a scale ~1/100th of the scale of the plant, and the storage bit is still being debated.

    In order to remain profitable most of the energy companies are building gas fired power stations as they come straight out of the box and work cheaply and quickly. Which is fine as long as eastern europe is stable and gas prices are cheap.

    I think the problem lies in the fact that 4 out of ‘the big 6’ energy companies are owned by foreign businesses, and so may consider profitability of investments ahead of security of supply of electricity for britain. (The big six are edf – electricite de france, e.on – a german company, npower – owned by a german company, scottish power – owned by a spanish company, british gas, and scottish and southern – both are traded on the london stock exchange.)

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