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The future lies with nuclear power despite Japan's troubles

Sir, Despite the caveats expressed by some Liberal Democrats over nuclear power (“Nuclear power ‘unsellable’ after Japan crisis, warns Ashdown”, Mar 26), the question of safety can be assessed only by scientists and nuclear engineers, not by politicians. Recent calculations indicate new nuclear power costs of £59/MWh including development, construction and decommissioning, reducing to £50/MWh later. Levelised offshore wind costs are estimated at £203/MWh, including marine transmission and grid restructuring; onshore wind, £118/MWh. All renewables suffer from a low density of energy collection. Replacing one nuclear power plant (1.2 GW) by onshore wind would require about 300 square miles of countryside carpeted by 1,500x100-metre high turbines assuming 30 per cent efficiency. UK electricity use is about 100 GW. No generating system can be decarbonised without nuclear power and in our densely populated country unspoilt wilderness is at a premium. Stable and cheap electricity underpins all advanced economies. Present renewables are not a serious future option.

Professor Anthony Trewavas 
Penicuik, Midlothian

The Times; 29 March 2011