Problems surfaced yesterday (Oct 16, 2006) in some of Britain's
nuclear power stations. Unsurprisingly (since these stations are
many years past their original design lifetimes) more cracks have been found
in boiler tubes at Hunterston B in Scotland and Hinkley Point B in
Gloucestershire. Only one of British Energy's eight plants is
currently operating at full output (Torness). This has affected
the price of British Energy shares. (......incidentally, I bought
some shares in British energy in 1999. They have lost about 95%
of their value...N.D.)
This is bad news for electricity consumers. The stations concerned have been shut down
until the problems are resolved. The company has had to buy electricity from
the wholesale market to meet contracts. The price of baseload
electricity increased from 4.3 to 4.5p.
Analysts say that the company is paying the penalty for failing
to invest enought to maintain plants now operating well beyond their
operating life. One could argue, however, that we should be
building new stations, not investing large sums in maintaining
worn-out plant. One should also take the statements of accountants on nuclear
matters with a large pinch of salt.
But - it's clear that the probability of power cuts this winter
has increased again.
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