Time to go nuclear?


Sir, – I was surprised by the uniformed commentary on nuclear power by Michael McDowell (Opinion, June 30th).

While nuclear energy is a safe renewable energy source, it is not an economic one. Ireland has a market-based auction system for renewable energy with a fixed strike price of €74 MW/h (£67) in the most recent auction and prices expected to fall in future auctions.

Projects must be completed within 27 months of the auction results. Nuclear power could bite into these auctions. However the most recent UK plant Hinkley Point C was granted a strike price of £92.5 (in 2012 prices) linked to inflation. This is estimated to be about £247 by contract end in 2060s.

Hinkley C is scheduled to be completed 18 years after it was announced in a country with a significant history of nuclear power and experienced regulatory agencies.

Given Ireland’s planning issues and lack of regulatory or industry experience, a similar plant in Ireland would require at least as long to construct and similarly extortionate incentives.

Even then, private financing would likely be impossible and would require a full government guarantee. Renewables including complete backup storage will be significantly cheaper long before nuclear power could ever play a role in Ireland.

Nuclear power is a wonderful technology – which cannot be built economically in the West.

– Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.