The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) of the UK and Ireland has called for renewable technologies to be used to produce ‘real green energy’ on land formerly occupied by now decommissioned nuclear power plants.
The NFLA was pleased to see the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the agency charged with making safe and clearing closed civil nuclear plants, committing itself in its latest draft Business Plan to being a ‘net (carbon) zero’ business, but disheartened by the lack of detail.
In its response to the consultation on the plan concluded today by the NDA, the NFLA hopes that ‘active consideration can be given to generating onsite power and heat to support decommissioning operations using renewable technologies.’
Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, said:
“We are surprised that the NDA has not picked up on the obvious. The land formerly occupied by nuclear power plants, whilst not being so attractive for residential, leisure or office developments, has great potential to be the location for solar farms, wind turbines and ‘green’ hydrogen. Or, where these plants are located by the sea, even to support offshore generation through being a support base for wind farms and tidal schemes. By their nature, nuclear plants are also linked to the electricity grid. Why not use their geographical situation and infrastructure for ‘real green’ energy generation?”
In its draft Business Plan, the NDA has indicated that the following land on each of these redundant power plant sites has now been ‘de-designated’ from nuclear use: Berkeley – 11 hectares; Harwell – 23 hectares; Oldbury – 32 hectares; Winfrith – 10 hectares; and Capenhurst – 17 hectares, but over the next decade all of the UK’s remaining outdated Advanced Gas Cooled reactors will be closed and decommissioning will begin, a process that will take over 100 years.
Councillor Blackburn added:
“Clearly NDA operatives will be on-site for a long-time so an investment in micro-generation schemes, such as roof-mounted solar, a solar farm or wind turbines, would pay for itself many fold. Not only would the NDA reap the dividend of generating renewable power to support decommissioning operations, but it would also reduce the agency’s carbon footprint. And as 1,043 hectares is expected to be eventually freed up, there is no reason that the agency could not become a net exporter of renewable energy to the National Grid.”
In its response, the NFLA references a community-owned renewable energy provider which has a 915 KW solar farm on a 1.6 hectare site, and points out that the Oldbury ‘de-designated land’ is 32 hectares, enough to theoretically host twenty such schemes.
For more information please contact: Richard Outram, Secretary, NFLA email Richard.email@example.com / mobile 07583 097793
Notes to Editors
The NDA draft Business Plan and the link to the consultation can be found at:
The NFLA response to the NDA’s consultation on the draft business plan in relation to Sustainability reads:
‘Page 29 – Sustainability
As an organisation committed to the advancement of renewable energy technologies, the NFLA welcomes the NDA’s commitment to ‘Working towards Net Zero’, but regrets that other than a vague reference to ‘introducing solar power’, this section contains no detail on plans to make it so (though on page 37 the plan has a welcome reference to hydro-electric power generation at Maentwrog).
Specifically we would hope that active consideration can be given to generating onsite power and heat to support decommissioning operations using renewable technologies. Roof-mounted solar systems are now successfully employed upon many public buildings and both these and wind turbines are also widely deployed in the farming sector, many of them also in isolated communities. Given the longevity of decommissioning operations, investment in such technologies should be repaid many fold.
On the following pages reference is made to specific parcels of land so far ‘dedesignated’ from nuclear licensing:
- Page 39 – Berkeley – 11 hectares
- Page 43 – Harwell – 23 hectares
- Page 46 – Oldbury – 32 hectares
- Page 49 – Winfrith – 10 hectares
- Page 59 – Capenhurst – 17 hectares
These figures will only get bigger. Indeed as identified on Page 18 this will ultimately rise to 1,043 hectares.
In the case of Harwell, reference is made to returning land to the Harwell Campus, but otherwise there is no explanation about what this land will be used for.
If the NDA is indeed committed to ‘zero carbon’ and sustainability in its operations, it would be valuable for the final draft of the business plan to indicate clearly if there are plans to generate renewable energy, coupled perhaps with battery storage, from any of these parcels of land, and when.
By way of an illustrative example, the renewable energy community co-operative Low Carbon Gordano is located approximately 20 miles South West of the Oldbury site in and around Portishead. At Ham Lane, the co-operative operates a 915 KW solar farm located on a 1.6 hectare site. Oldbury, we would speculate, will enjoy pretty much the same solar exposure as Ham Lane and could, theoretically, on its ‘dedesignated’ land currently accommodate 20 such facilities! If this were to generate more than enough electricity for onsite use, the surplus electricity could be exported as a renevue raiser, sold for profit to the National Grid.’