The debate on if, or rather when, nuclear energy is to be seriously considered as an option has barely begun here in Ireland, but, arguably, there are signs that the UK government is much more convinced. In yesterday’s Guardian, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, indicated that new nuclear power stations would have to be included in future energy production.From the Guardian report –
In an interview with the Guardian, Sir David King said there were economic as well as environmental reasons for a new generation of reactors.
He said nuclear power had “the safest record of all the power industries in the world”. Professor King, who has previously said more nuclear power stations “may be necessary” to meet carbon dioxide emission targets, said the decline of North Sea oil and gas could tip the balance.
“We need indigenous energy sources so we don’t rely on imported gas from Russia. We’re the last in the pipeline across Europe, so a second requirement is that we have a secure energy supply. Indigenous supplies include all renewables and nuclear.”
Relying on renewable sources including wind, solar and wave power to replace lost capacity when existing nuclear power stations close would be a “remarkably tough challenge,” he said. “At the moment 24% of energy on the grid comes from nuclear power; by 2020 that will be down to 4%. That gap of 20% is going to be very difficult to cover over the period 2010 to 2020 without new nuclear build.”