Keywords: nuclear power, nuclear energy, sustainable development, sustainability, thermal pollution, economics, intergenerational equity, environmental impact, marine biodiversity, nuclear decommissioning, decommissioning costs, waste disposal costs, nuclear waste
Nuclear power: ecologically sustainable or energy hot potato? A case study
We are facing the prospect of fossil fuels running out. The magnitude of the hydrocarbon resource gap and lack of alternative energy sources leaves us with few choices. The gap between supply and demand must be met through either increased efficiency or increased nuclear/renewable energy production. With the proposed development of ten nuclear power stations, government appears committed to using nuclear power to combat the problem. However, the sustainability of this solution is questionable. By taking Hinkley Point, Somerset as a case study, this paper will explore the sustainability of the project by having regard to the environmental impacts on marine biodiversity, as well as questioning the decommissioning and waste disposal costs that have been provided for the project. In doing so, this paper aims to understand whether nuclear energy is truly sustainable or simply a method of shifting the economic and environmental burden of responsibility onto future generations.