Positive Energy

Friday, May 25, 2007

5. The Nuclear Power Option

Do you agree or disagree with the Government's views on the value of having nuclear power as an option? What are your reasons? Are there any significant considerations that you believe are missing? If so, what are they?

Disagree. The future need for energy and electricity is easy to predict - a lot more will be needed. The UK government claims that this is difficult to foresee. I think it is obvious. Moreover, the UK government has a responsibility to make this increase happen. More energy is required to keep industries competitive, to cool and heat urban complexes, for transportation, and to run the computers that will coordinate our world. Energy provides a standard of living that makes human life tolerable. Failure to understand this fundamental tenet of modern life would be a cultural catastrophe, a step down, a betrayal of all the hard work of our predecessors who wanted to improve the human experience.

Facing this challenge, the UK government has some technical options that are proven and reliable, some that are questionable, and some that are liabilities. Preparations for the increased energy future should be based on the proven and reliable technologies at hand, and could perhaps include some small experiments with the questionable forms, but should avoid the liabilities. The UK government is not doing this, in fact is doing the opposite. The liabilities such as wind and carbon capture are being emphasized, the questionable forms such as hydrogen are being encouraged, while proven and reliable fission is being shunned. What is the point of modeling an energy supply mix without nuclear power? What should be modeled is a mix without wind power.

The UK government does not have criteria for measuring the success of renewables and carbon capture. Such criteria are required so that an objective decision can be made to end the effort being wasted on these liabilities. The following measures could be used:

- safety should be better than nuclear (this eliminates coal even with carbon capture, wind, and hydro),

- cost should be better than nuclear (this eliminates wind),

- animal killing should be better than nuclear (this eliminates wind and hydro),

- land use should be better than nuclear (this eliminates wind and hydro),

- green house gas emissions should be better than nuclear (this eliminates coal even with carbon capture, wind, and hydro),

- the need for transmission lines should be less than nuclear (this eliminates wind and hydro), and

- load following and grid disruption should be better than nuclear (this eliminates wind).

The UK government has modeled a future that does not include nuclear power and assumed that such a model is sensible. It is not. Wind mills do not work on their own and no one will invest in them in a market that does not allow wind farms to be backed up with coal. The investment money expected by the UK government model will not be there - it will be put into more reasonable opportunities in other countries that are moving ahead with pragmatic energy policies. The UK will be left behind, a ruined and failed state. Common sense has to be used when modeling.


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