NUCLEAR POWER is not a cost effective power source and its expansion will do little to combat global climate change, a leading American sustainability expert has warned.
After 50 years we are no closer to making the economics of nuclear power stack up, said Amory Lovins, chief executive of US sustainable development think-tank the Rocky Mountain Institute.
He was addressing over 300 engineers at a UK Royal Academy of Engineering sponsored lecture on the economics of nuclear power.
'I don't know of anything that can save nuclear power from its dismal fundamental economics, ' he said. 'Nuclear power has died of an incurable attack of market forces with no credible prospect of revival.'
Lovins said the technology's poor economic record and need for huge public subsidy to cover decommissioning costs meant that further nuclear power expansion was 'coasting to a halt'.
He added that it was commercially unrealistic to renew or enhance the world's aging nuclear power stations.
Instead he highlighted the rapid growth in small decentralised and renewable power generation technologies. He argued that these are more effiient but also give more 'climate change solution per pound.
'But if you buy one thing then you must forego something else - therefore investment in nuclear power now will make things worse.'
Lovins' presentation showed an array of alternative scenarios to the use of large centralised thermal generation plants. These included the use of wind, tidal, solar, geothermal and biomass and, crucially, hinged on the need for a diversified portfolio of sources.