Despite improvements in the energy efficiency of electrical devices, historically total electricity consumption has continued to rise at about 1% annually in Britain.
In this guide:
The annual electricity consumption increase of 1% will mean Britain's 59 GWe peak winter electricity demand increasing by 64% over the next 50 years to reach around 97 GWe by 2060.
Electrification of the transport sector may dramatically increase this further still. Faced with these energy realities the prospects for new nuclear build look very promising, but the long term outlook for nuclear power will actually depend on several major questions:
On Britain's present trajectory, a balanced low-carbon energy mix involving significant nuclear, gas, renewable and embedded generation technologies looks ideal.
If another Chernobyl happens early during a nuclear construction programme, further reactor orders would most likely be cancelled and nuclear build perhaps eventually abandoned. Accidents do of course happen. How well we design around them is what makes the difference between nuisance or catastrophe. Good engineering may well decide the outcome.
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