Nuclear NIMBYism

The British government’s white paper on energy, expected on Wednesday, is likely to follow the recommendation of the government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, in October 2005 – “We need indigenous energy sources.. Indigenous supplies include all renewables and nuclear.” Planning changes are also in the pipeline. It is, in fact, a perfectly rational solution to the main public concern about climate change. Politically, however, it remains a sensitive subject.. not least in Ireland. The Secretary of State for Wales etc has already declared that no nuclear power stations will be built here.. and the new Scottish First Minister concurs on his backyard.. but the future is one of inter-connectivity.. Hypocrisy much?

The interconnectors enable trade of electricity between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and through the Moyle Interconnector (Northern Ireland – Scotland) with regions throughout Britain thus providing a more efficient, integrated electricity system on the island of Ireland.

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  • Aquifer

    Nuclear is too expensive to be anything but a political penis extension. Long live market economics.

  • Pete Baker

    Perhaps you’d like to expand on that “expensive” allegation, aquifer?

    Because the anti-nuclear option seems more of a knee-jerk political reaction..

  • Máírtáúín

    A debate on future energy policy gets two comments whereas a spurious leaked memo from Conor Murphy on the subject of sectarian nomenclature gets seventy odd. Discuss.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nuclear is too expensive to be anything but a political penis extension.

    Can you explain why it successfully provides almost all of the electricity generated in France, and a considerable proportion of the electricity generated in the USA and Canada ?

    The Canadians have some very nice homegrown nuclear reactors which are safe, have an excellent operational record and operate in a way which does not generate weapons-grade byproduct. I imagine the Brits are more likely to want to build more PWR reactors similar to Sizewell B though.

  • eranu

    “A debate on future energy policy gets two comments whereas a spurious leaked memo from Conor Murphy on the subject of sectarian nomenclature gets seventy odd. Discuss.”

    i think its because its more fun to ‘sleg’ themmuns ??

    nuclear power is probably the only viable power source we have that can provide all the power we need into the distant future when coal and oil are gone. renewables are great, and they should be developed as much as possible, but we just cant get them to generate enough power for all the electrical equipment we use, never mind to provide heat. our energy requirements are only going to increase despite all the low energy consumption devices that are marketed to us.
    modern nuclear fission reactors are actually quite safe and are used extensively in other countries. yes theres a problem dealing with the waste but its not impossible. the problem is with the hysterical anti this that and the other brigade. they’ve seen the china syndrome too many times and think the worlds about to end. what is their alternative solution?
    the future of nuclear power hopefully is nuclear fusion. the energy that powers the sun, the thing that allows life on earth to exist. already there are small fusion reactors, and scientists hope to have commercial reactors in a few decades. this is clean energy, the holy grail ! if we had any sense we’d be pouring all our money into this technology instead of talking about the carbon footprint that your weekly shopping in sainsburys creates !

  • Pounder

    There does seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to Nuclear Power something along the lines of “ZOMG TEH NUKLEAR POWER IS EVIL!” But with peak oil on the horizion what choice do we have? Wind Turbines and Hydroelectric just won’t produce enough.

  • Tomas

    Blair may well have believed what he was doing all those years ago when he was an active member of CND but dreamers are cannon fodder to reality. Nuclear is “in” because there is a well documentated energy crunch on the horizion and the choice is Nuclear or a total change in how we consume energy. We should reduce drastically and in some middle to upper range households it’s becoming quite the rage and jolly good fun is had by all with windmills , mini – hydro , LED lights , LPG Range Rovers and the like.
    However what Blair and the boys are focussed on are the “Great unwashed”. There’s a lot of them about and if / when the lights go out and the heating fails then all bets are off. The potential in the UK urban sinks for spectacular mass violence is immense and that’s why any Government is heading straight up the Nuclear path. It is scary and depressing .. well it scares me anyway.

  • kensei

    “Wind Turbines and Hydroelectric just won’t produce enough.”

    Is microgeneration viable, if expensive? If you push the responsibility for the decisions down the chain, would people be more ready to make changes to deal with Global Warming?

  • Is microgeneration viable, if expensive?

    I don’t think it’s really viable as a major factor, ken, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with facilitating people who want to use it. Wind is intermittent and in this part of the world sun is even more so. That means you need back up systems, meaning coal, oil, gas or nuclear. Which means the infrastructure needs to be ticking over at all times. Which means the benefit of microgeneration, and the contribution of renewables overall, is necessarily limited.

    We basically have three choices:

    a. build nuclear reactors and deal with the waste in a mature, secure, way.
    b. trust we’ll have enough coal and oil to keep us and the newly ‘rich’ in India and China in air-conditioning and repeats of Blakes 7 for the next three or four centuries. And ignore the carbon emissions.
    c. suffer a massive cut in living standards and end any chance of the world’s poorest improving their lot. Don’t buy into this crap that it’s about ‘changing’ lifestyles and not leaving the TV on standby. It would require the currently rich world to massively cut consumption and then impose, by force of arms, poverty on the developing world.

    Take your pick. I go for option a. Not that microgeneration has nothing to contribute but it’s no panacaea.

    if we had any sense we’d be pouring all our money into this technology instead of talking about the carbon footprint that your weekly shopping in sainsburys creates !

    It’s wrong to put all your eggs in on basket, but I agree that it would be a good use of public money to ramp up fusion research – if the big energy importing economies – the EU, China, Japan and India, really threw the kitchen sink at this, something very positive might result.

    But something very positive might result in trying to replicate the Brazilian experiment with ethanol-powered cars, for a lot less money. But there’s been little interest so far. Pity.

    However what Blair and the boys are focussed on are the “Great unwashed”. There’s a lot of them about and if / when the lights go out and the heating fails then all bets are off. The potential in the UK urban sinks for spectacular mass violence is immense and that’s why any Government is heading straight up the Nuclear path.

    Jesus, you’re a terrible snob! No wonder you get depressed. If I thought of most of my fellow human beings as ‘the great unwashed’, I’d be depressed too.

  • tomas

    “Jesus, you’re a terrible snob!”

    Steady ! I was only trying to get a phrase that caught how i think Governments look at the bulk of us. Would that i had anything to be snobby about … and i’m still depressed.

  • European Bob

    The French quite rightly told Blair to eff off when Blair suggested the EU set targets to cut emissions seen as France have already cut theirs emission by being 80% Nuclear.

    No one would argue against the principle of reduce, reuse and recycle, but it goes against 30 years of political thinking in Britain where convenience is king. now we are supposed to suddenyl dance to a different tune?

    As is his way Blair is all mouth and no trousers. If he was serious in reducing CO2 emissions there is a whole raft of messure governemnt could take that would encourage people and industry to be more green. but instead he uses it as an excuse for for taxing people.

    He has no credibility on the issue whatsoever.

  • Aquifer

    Nuclear is too expensive. Put a price on fuel security and you would more likely end up opening up the North Antrim lignite mine, building windfarms off coleraine, bringing irish gas ashore, and installing loft insulation. Nuclear would be a last resort, especially with limited Uranium resources.

  • dodrade

    As far as I know the Government won’t be building any new nuclear power stations, they want private companies to do it, but none have been built in years.

    If they don’t make it worth their while to build then there may not be any no matter what the government wants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier:

    Nuclear is too expensive.

    It’s not too expensive in France or Canada. Why here ?

    Put a price on fuel security and you would more likely end up opening up the North Antrim lignite mine,

    Damaging the landscape and burning fossil fuels is exactly what nuclear is being proposed to avoid.

    building windfarms off coleraine,

    Windfarms are a great idea, we need more, but they are intermittent and can’t provide base load power.

    bringing irish gas ashore,

    Not a viable longer term solution.

    and installing loft insulation.

    Small increases in energy efficiency won’t solve our energy problems.

    Nuclear would be a last resort, especially with limited Uranium resources.

    There’s a few hundred years worth of uranium at the moment – just enough to keep us going until we can get fusion up and running. ITER (the experimental fusion reactor) is planned to be producing a net power output by around 2030.

  • B9

    While the pro and anti nuclear power arguments are interesting in themselves, surely there is another issue here, which Pete is more than hinting at.

    The Secretary of State for NI answered Paxman without hesitation last night that he was in favour of a new generation of power stations.

    Yet he has specifically ruled out positioning one in NI. ” There are no plans to build any nuclear power stations in Northern Ireland – that is the view I have taken as secretary of state.”

    Why, well because it is “part of an understanding we have with the Irish government, who are opposed to any new nuclear build on the whole island of Ireland.” (BBC)

    Plan B alive and well eh?

    Are we part of the UK or not, if nuclear is good enough for England, why is it bad for Northern Ireland?

    It would be interesting to know what the alleged hardline unionist now in charge of DETI thinks of this issue.