Letter: Atomic reaction

Patrick Harvie MSP (Platform, 22 June) implies that the public will pay for the "huge investment" required for new nuclear power stations.

However, unlike all renewables, which are both subsidised by consumers (increasing our bills) and the state, nuclear stations will be built without any subsidy entirely at the expense of the constructors/operators.

As for carbon-capture technology (if it works), I fully expect that also to be subsidised; without subsidy it would be uneconomic.

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Mr Harvie also implies that supplies of nuclear fuel (does he mean uranium?) are "diminishing".

In fact, identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tons, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered - a roughly 230-year supply at today's consumption rate.

Further exploration and improvements in extraction technology are likely to at least double this estimate over time.

In the future, the extraction of uranium from seawater could make available 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium - a 60,000-year supply at present rates.

Alternatively, fuel-recycling fast-breeder reactors, which generate more fuel than they consume, would use less than 1 per cent of the uranium needed for current light-water reactors. Breeder reactors could match today's nuclear output for at least 30,000 years.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan


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