New book demystifies nuclear power as part of the future energy system

Publish date: October 28, 2010

Written by: Lorelei Limousin

On October 26th, Rebecca Harms, Member of the European Parliament and co-president of the GREENS/EFA Group, hosted a presentation of the book “Myth of Nuclear Power – A Guide” at the European Parliament in Brussels. The authors, commissioned by the The Heinrich Böll Foundation, challenge the commonly accepted myths on nuclear power and provide strong economic and political arguments against nuclear power.


As nuclear power plant construction is resumed in some parts of the world, the authors deemed it necessary to remind people of the disproportionate costs of nuclear deployment.

Since January 2008, 32 reactors have been under construction. Yet, only six of them are located in European Union and the US together, precisely where the new so-called Generation III+ design is applied. Due to commercial risks and a deterrent licensing process, the ”nuclear renaissance” is not happening. Indeed, nuclear costs have always gone up in the fifty years of nuclear energy commercialization.

Anthony Frogatt, Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House, gave a presentation addressing the role of nuclear power in the energy system transformation. He showed that the conflict between renewable energy and nuclear power is intensifying.  Investments in nuclear power could constitute a hurdle for the development of renewables and energy efficiency technologies, for instance because it triggers overcapacity of baseload power plants, which run counter to energy efficiency initiatives.

Steve Thomas, Professor at the University of Greenwhich Business School, addressed the economics of nuclear power and the increasing risks around investments. He notably demonstrated that loan guarantees and carbon price floor were not sufficient incentives to invest. He also debunked the French model, saying that the construction costs have tripled in the last twenty years while the capacity has declined.

The presentation further echoed the great opposition to the recent move of the German authorities to reverse the decision to phase out nuclear power. Yet, as MEP Rebecca Harms said, the decision ”may not lead to a law.” She finally seized the opportunity to express her disappointment regarding the draft of the revised radioactive waste directive , which doesn’t fulfil Oettinger’s promises of providing a clear definition of nuclear waste and ceasing its transport.


The book is available on the Heinrich Böll Foundation website.