Friday, May 25, 2007

New Nukes Near You?

If you live in the UK and you haven't seen the list of potential new nuclear power station sites then you can get them here. The top ranked sites are generally in the South East.

I'm generally against nuclear as a source of energy for the following reasons:

1. Safety - accidents can and do happen, no matter how good the design.

2. Waste - no-one has a convincing solution to the waste problem and politicians tend to add a little "provided this important issue can get resolved" caveat to their speeches. And then plough on regardless.

3. Transportation - There's also the little matter of getting the fuel safely from mines to the power station. If there are indeed hoards of rabid terrorists out there trying to make dirty bombs, as many would have us believe, shipping the raw material around the world in increasing quantities doesn't seem like a very good idea.

4. Sustainability - nuclear fuel is still a fossil fuel and will run out - estimates of how much we have left vary from 6.8 to 50 years depending on how you define what ore is suitable (you need to balance the energy required to extract the fuel from the ore against the energy it will produce). But all these figures relate to replacing electricity like for like and not using nuclear to replace other forms of energy eg heating homes which would slash that timeframe.

5. Expense - I have it on very good authority (I'm afraid I can't name names!) that we only have a civil nuclear power capability to make military nuclear capability more acceptable during the 50s & 60s and that nobody in their right mind would use nuclear as a source of energy on economic grounds. Ever since the nuclear industry has been given humungeous subsidies, orders of magnitude above that which has been given to the renewables industry.

But with the Government dead set on a "nukes plus 'newables" policy, it looks as if we might just have to live with "our friend the atom"...

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