As a result of long-term problems, EDF has decided to close down the two remaining reactors at Dungeness B after 36 years of operation.
You can read an earlier article that gives some of the history and identified some of the problems here. EDF hoped that reactors would be able to start up again until quite recently. The decision to shut them down must have come as a bitter disappointment to the station director John Benn and all the staff at Dungeness B.
Decommissioning will take about 40 years and cost many millions. This is not good news for a company so heavily in debt. The site will remain radioactive for about 100 years.
The nuclear industry is claiming that the closure of Dungeness B highlights the need for more nuclear. But it is now widely accepted that this is not true.
There are some who remain sceptical about renewable energy and whether we can cope without nuclear. There is no need to be – for several reasons.
Solar and wind already can provide over 50% of our electricity and their share is still growing rapidly. Other renewable technologies are being developed such as marine tidal power and geothermal that will make a significant contribution in the near future.
An intelligent grid will be able to make use of batteries (even in cars) so that electricity can be provided during periods of high demand. This could reduce our need for electricity by nearly half.
An international grid already connects us to the hydropower of Scandinavia and wherever the sun is shining and the wind is blowing in Europe. Many more connections are being planned including to the solar power of north Africa.
The closure of Dungeness B will be a sad day for those who work there. There will be some serious worries as they and their families have depended on Dungeness for many years. We hope that EDF will look after them well.
Nuclear, with its hidden costs of waste disposal and accident risk, has no future in this country or anywhere else and we can look forward to all our electricity coming from renewable sources – including, perhaps, a new solar farm at Dungeness.
Image Credits: EDF Stakeholder Newsletter https://www.edfenergy.com/media-centre/news-releases/dungeness-b-site-stakeholder-group-report-june-2020.