With the world scrambling to find solutions to the ongoing energy crisis, the subject of shifting to nuclear power is one that is being bandied about in many countries. But while many experts on nuclear power declare that it is both a sustainable and viable means of powering nations in the place of fossil fuels, many others beg to differ as they cite studies showing the adverse impact of nuclear power on both environmental and physical health.
But the government of the United Kingdom appears to lean towards the doctrine of the former in the sense that its plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 involves the construction and eventual operation of nuclear power plants throughout the country. One such plant is currently rising in the town of Hinkley in the southwest of England, a 430-acre site that is being pegged to provide up to 7% of the country’s total power requirement upon its completion.
Not Without Problems
But while Hinkley and other initiatives on a similar scale offer a great deal of promise, experts cannot help but point out the issues that come with them.
The cost of the development, for example, is one such issue: as of press time, the construction of the Hinkley nuclear power plant is already well above its stipulated budget of $30 billion due to its protracted construction time. According to those involved in the project, delays in construction have been mostly attributed to supply issues and labor shortages in the wake of COVID-19.
Such delays in the UK as well as for similar projects in France, Finland, and the United States have made other nations hesitant about going in for nuclear power. Likewise, experts like Sussex University’s Paul Dorfman say that bringing in nuclear solutions is too little too late with regard to the current power crisis, and certainly not enough to offset the impact that fossil fuel use has had on the environment.
Another point of concern for many people who have spoken against the construction of nuclear power plants in the UK is that of safety, and activists keep pointing out the repercussions nuclear power plants have had on areas like Chernobyl and Fukushima. But those responsible for Hinkley and similar initiatives say that they have done the math and are complying with strict regulations to ensure that their plants are much safer and more efficient than those reliant on fossil fuels.
This, nevertheless, remains to be seen as the Hinkley plant is set to open by 2027.