Positive Energy

Friday, May 25, 2007

15. Investing in Nuclear Power

Are there any other issues or information that you believe need to be considered before taking a decision on giving energy companies the option of investing in nuclear power stations? And why?

Yes. The positive benefits of rational and scientific thinking need to be defended. Many groups are putting forward poorly thought out ideas with the intention of misleading large numbers of people, and gaining political power as a final result. Groups that claim that wind mills can provide all the electricity we need offer typical examples of this cult thinking. A much more positive and morally sound future can be envisaged and can be achieved. Nuclear power is one of the many benefits of science that can contribute to this positive future. But truth needs defenders. If no one speaks up for truth it will be lost. The current UK government approach is hesitant and implicitly negative. It does not inspire anyone to get involved in the process of making the world a better place. If the UK government intends to face the future with this glum and gloomy outlook it might as well quit now - it will not succeed.

The UK government has made many assumptions about the nature of nuclear power. Most of these assumptions are not warranted, and they curtail needlessly both the uses of nuclear power, and the benefits that can result. The worst of these is the view that nuclear power has to be implemented as a large, centralized facility that delivers only baseload power. There are no technical justifications for this assumption. All ships could be powered with small nuclear engines. Nuclear batteries such as the one being considered for Galena, Alaska can provide electricity to remote towns. Individual factories that use a lot of energy could be driven by their own local reactors. The supply of energy could be much more robust as a result of such distributed generation.

The UK government should recognize that there are many spin-off activities associated with nuclear power. One such activity is the production and use of radiating isotopes. Isotopes are used in medicine for diagnostic imaging, in agriculture for insect control, and in industry for applications such as reducing static electricity. All this expertise and benefit is associated with a robust nuclear power industry. A nation that does not use nuclear power will not develop the expertise and will not realize the benefits of isotope applications.

The UK government should include the value of international sales in its assessment of nuclear power. Companies that have invested in nuclear power successfully will have services and products that can be sold to Africa, India, China, South America, and Australia. The resulting income and job creation could be sizable.


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