The final chapter entitled Epilogue, is perhaps an unfortunate title given that so many knowledgeable people in this country would like to see nuclear come to an end, and looks at what might be called the near future. It briefly covers new types of reactor, including the Small Modular Design (SMR) and the way-out Generation IV types. When the authors were putting the book together only the PWR at Hinkley Point C was quite definite. However the key long term competition is renewables and here the authors point out that the Small Modular Design doesn’t look at all competitive!
There was one final laugh in this chapter for me and that is the proposal by Dieter Helm, saying that because Governments can borrow money at lower interest rates, tax payers should carry part of the construction costs. Perhaps Dieter doesn’t remember that this was what was going on in the days of the CEGB! What killed nuclear (after privatisation) was that commercial organisations had to borrow money at the going rate and it was this recognition by an Assistant Director at British Gas’s London Research Station, that kept me in a job, as he saw that it meant there were novel opportunities in prospect, for the use of gas to generate electricity – and so gas for a time, not nuclear energy, was going to be the fuel of the future.
Dr Fred Starr FIMMM.FIE, MIMechE, C.Eng
An earlier version of this review was published by The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing in 2019