Is nuclear energy the next oil?
Hinkley, the future of UK Nuclear energy
The Hinkley Nuclear project is a proposal to build a nuclear power station in the region of Somerset, England. This project has been widely debated by many; from this nuclear project, many various opinions have developed from the morals, ethics and the consequences of the project. It is estimated that the project will cost near to £20 billion but once built, this immense power station would provide more efficient and more reliable energy than other forms of energies already used. Furthermore, there are arguments which concern the environment cost of Hinkley and whether this project would mimic the disaster felt by Fukushima’s plant.
The construction of Hinkley has also attracted many investors from abroad; for example, the Chinese based company, China General Nuclear, has agreed to take a 33% stake in the Project, along with EDF. In addition to this, CGN has also submitted plans to build a nuclear power station within the British Isles. Hinkley Nuclear Project is one of the most controversial engineering projects within the UK, due to the fact that since 1955, Britain hasn't built one until now.
What it means to the South West?
Building Hinkley would cost £20 billion plus the costs of fossil fuels used in construction machinery, shipping equipment and in vehicles. It is no shock that these modes of transport release a lot of harmful emissions, such as nitrogen monoxide and carbon dioxide.
However, it is highly likely that employment will increase due to Hinkley Point; for example, 25,000 jobs will be produced within the construction and operation period. A variety of jobs from mechanical engineering to landscape ground maintenance would be created on top of 1,000 new apprenticeships for younger people seeking employment.
If Hinkley does finish construction smoothly, this will pay high hopes to the nuclear energy segment of the economy. Already said to produce thousands of jobs and increase employment (regionally), the future of nuclear energy will be heavily dependent on the ability of the government to fully project the benefits of this energy type.
The UK has a prosperous path in terms of renewable energy, not only just concerning nuclear power. Considered to be one of the best locations for wind energy, the UK has a great opportunity to widen its comparative advantage over other countries. And perhaps renewable energy may be a talking point on the UK's journey to exiting the EU...