Oh dear, two energy-related errors in the 11 January issue. First, kWh is a unit of energy while kW is a unit of power, not vice versa (page 75).
Second, 20% is not the amount of Britain’s energy currently supplied by nuclear power – it is the proportion of UK electricity which could be provided if all the nuclear power stations actually worked. Electricity is a third to two fifths of total energy use, so even if enough nuclear new build is provided to supply 20% of our electrical energy, this is at most 8% of total energy.
Nuclear power is, and will continue to be, small beer, and should not be allowed to occupy more than 8% of the energy debate.
It is disruptive – because nukes cannot readily adjust their output, more demand has to be met by fossil fuel plants, whose lives are shortened by fatigue. Perhaps the reason the government chose to settle the nuclear issue before picking the rest of the electricity supply team is that nuclear appears now to be a high-scoring superstar player. In a comprehensive energy review it would be revealed as an irritating misfit.