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« The silence of the wells | Main | Game just changed again »

Oh no! It's DECC!


In Parliament yesterday, energy minister Greg Hands explained that DECC is organising a modular nuclear reactor competition for the UK.

Following the announcement made at the Budget, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched the first phase of a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor for the UK on the 17th March. This development builds on a previous announcement, made at Autumn Statement 2015, that DECC would conduct this competition to help pave the way towards building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the UK.

Surely one of the most important advantages of small modular nuclear reactors is that you can have competition among many suppliers. Different niches, including "best value", can be found from the bottom up.

Why would we want a top-down process to find the best value modular reactor? And surely DECC are the last people on earth who you would want running it?

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Reader Comments (115)


"Uk electricity production for 2015 now decisively below the 2005 -2014 range for the entire year, especially near the end of the year"

December 2015 was nearly 4degC warmer than for 2014, which may have something to do with it. We've also lost some heavy industry, which I hope won't be too regular an occurrence - we haven't got that much left!

Mar 24, 2016 at 1:32 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The warmer weather thingy is bollox.
You had warmer or colder weather spells throughout the 60s and 70s but energy and electrical consumption kept on rising year after year
We are witnessing a massive structural change in society.
I.E. Extreme rationing amongst a vast cohort of the population.

The UK industrial sector was tiny in 2014 /15.
It's decline has now little consequence on the UK energy balance.
We are witnessing major declines in personal consumption with possibly the middle class escaping to other countries for longer periods so as to avoid inflationary costs.
I.E very few people can afford to holiday in Scotland.....unless they stay in a mountain bothy.
They are travelling to Spain and further.

Mar 24, 2016 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork


"the government who sold the Harriers at scrap value"

And is replacing them with these. Read and weep...

Mar 24, 2016 at 1:49 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

To my knowledge electrical space heating is not used widely in the UK ( unlike France)
Changes in UK Electrical demand driven to a large extent by seasonal light changes which does not alter substantially with the weather.

Is more local authorities shutting down motorway and street lighting?
( these are indeed wasteful in my book)

Mar 24, 2016 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Street lighting may be wasteful in your book, DoC, but I nearly had my gonads removed a while ago by a concrete pillar in the middle of an unlit cycle path where the lighting had been switched off.

I haven't seen a breakdown of regional road accident statistics by recent street-lighting changes, but it might make interesting reading. Needless to say, I'm not expecting Roger Harrabin at the BBC to examine this aspect of his energy policy too carefully.

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Do not get me started on street lighting.......
My previously pristine dark sky location in Kerry is now becoming encroached on all sides by the bright orange sodium glow of Mordor.
Nothing expresses capitalistic waste more so then the once beautiful night sky blotted out of our collective imaginations.
My philosophy is to work as little as possible during the day and rest at night thus our lives require only the required illumination.
On cloudy moonless nights use a flashlight ( they are quite amazing inventions) to walk to the pub - .most nights in Kerry are cloudy.......

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Way back then, it was understood (in political circles) that the nuclear industry was a product of the cold war arms race. No one cared about the clean up costs b/c it was national security. That's why the numbers don't add up and Hinckley 'C' is in so much trouble.

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Hinckley is in trouble because British residents are too poor to afford the electric light bill, end of.
Remember there is 4million + extra residents in The UK since 2005 yet demand has decisively Collapsed below the 2005 -14 range last year.

The true hockey stick is Uk population figures post euro introduction, creating the european and global economic crisis and subsequent final capitalistic created population movement.
It's clearly the road to Bangladesh.

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

NCC 1701E/jamesp

The BBC presenter had certainly done his homework and asked all the right questions.
Amber appeared to have prepared nothing, stumbled in and was probably expecting an easy ride.

No doubt the green blob will pull strings to make sure this kind of thing never happens again

Mar 24, 2016 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

The UK has lost a lot of industry, and the loss has been continuous for decades. Manufacturing went on shrinking under New Labour - manufacturing jobs nearly halved from 4.5 million to 2.5 million between 1997 and 2010 (Nicholas Comfort's book 'The Slow Death of British Industry .... 1952-2012').

We have lost two high electricity usage aluminium smelters recently. Anglesey** went in 2009, Lynemouth in 2012. Only tiny Lochaber (43kt) is left. The reasons for these closures is well documented, principally the high cost of energy, largely due to UK climate policies. We have seen steel manufacturing hit badly in the last 12 months: SSI, Caparo and Tata all shedding capacity, mills and over 5000 jobs.

No wonder our electricity consumption is down.

**The Anglesey smelter got its electricity from Wylfa, a Magnox plant now closed; plus the EU prevented the low cost electricity deal that Anglesey had, because it was deemed to be government subsidy.

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

@Bryan, Mar 24, 2016 at 7:49 AM

Minister Amber Rudd MP gave an absolutely incompetent performance on Radio 4 BBC just finished now.

The Minister raised several points which were instantly refuted by the BBC presenter.

Listen, if you get a chance and be amazed.

Transcript and link to audio is here: Justin Webb takes Amber Rudd to task on Today over her ‘plague of frogs’ Brexit claims

Mar 25, 2016 at 12:13 AM | Registered CommenterPcar

Thanks Pcar


Mar 25, 2016 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan


"The warmer weather thingy is bollox."

Not entirely. If you follow the UK power consumption here, you will see that demand tracks temperature quite closely. What it doesn't show, sadly, is the input from the diesel STOR units - that and the associated costs would be very interesting to see.

Clearly, the UK has lost some big industrial consumers in the last few years (see Budgie, above) but the mass switch-on of kettles and domestic appliances in the early evening is still pretty noticeable.

This is going to get worse before it gets better!

Mar 25, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

My observations point to warm weather periods as merely true highlight markers of the long term structural hole in demand.
The long term trend is unmistakable.

The DECC published a bulletin on residential energy consumption which was quite shocking.
On top of a larger population we see smaller family sizes which should given all other things being equal drive up residential energy demand.
This is clearly not the case.
It is the residential and not the now tiny industrial base of the UK which is driving the demand reduction.

As for low energy light bulbs driving this phenomenon..... this is absurd.
In a well insulated house older light bulbs is all that is required to take the chill out of a room at night outside the winter season.
The installation of energy efficient lights should increase the propensity to utilise space heating.
I.E. Both cancel each other out more or less.
This is especially the case in high latitude countries where the non heating season coincides with extra long days and vice versa.

What we are witnessing is simply gross poverty.
Also I may add the current total absence of heating in many cases is most likely dramatically increasing the depreciation of the housing stock over the long term as dampness does its worst.

Mar 25, 2016 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork


Happy to agree with you over the lighting. A few bright halogen (incandescent) bulbs certainly take the chill off a room, as well as providing the proper spectrum.

Mar 25, 2016 at 10:42 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

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