Nuclear NIMBYism – redux

I’ve mentioned the hypocrisy of Nuclear NIMBYism in an archipelagic-wide energy grid previously [and it’s as alive and well as ever – Ed], so it’s good to see the Republic of Ireland’s Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan, calling for a reasoned debate on the issue, “so that the real science and the energy policy issues can be debated in detail”, at the same time that the UK government published a white paper on proposals to support the building of new nuclear facilities. Although, as a Guardian report points out, finance remains a major, but not the only, issue. Cian at Irish Election also adds some interesting points which apply to both discussions.

The options such as wave, solar and bio-fuel will be compared and contrasted to the range, availability and use of nuclear. It may finally give a serious direction on which options will provide the most rounded approach to lowering CO2 emissions. The real worry is that this debate only spawns more debates, committes, taskforces and zero decision making.

The Irish Labour Party statement, linked earlier, on the proposed debate is worth quoting

The Labour Party view is that Ireland should concentrate its efforts on building inter-connectors with Britain as Eirgrid plans to do and to proceed to build further inter-connectors to mainland Europe so that we can share electricity generated from wind and wave and make an important contribution towards reducing carbon emissions in the most appropriate way.

How many wind farms would you need build to be in a position where you could export the energy generated? Just a thought..

Adds At least the Northern Ireland Executive’s Energy minister acknowledges some of the limitations involved

Mr Dodds continued: “However, the main source of renewable energy in Northern Ireland, the wind, cannot be relied on to blow all of the time and we will continue to need a balanced mix of fuel sources to ensure a reliable electricity supply for consumers.

“With the advent of the Single Electricity Market it makes sense to work with the Irish energy sector on the ability of the electrical power systems to handle additional renewable generation to 2020 and beyond. I will examine this report over the coming months, working with my counterpart in the Irish Republic, Minister Eamon Ryan and other stakeholders.”

And from the report mentioned, an analysis of impacts and benefits associated with various scenarios for increased shares of electricity sourced from renewable energy in the all island power system.- available here [pdf file] – Study overview here


The benefits of renewable electricity generation may be lower than estimated and some associated costs are likely to be higher than estimated by this study. There is a risk that, due to the limitations of the models used, in particular the instantaneous amount of wind under dynamic conditions, the extent of curtailment of renewable generation, especially wind, at times of low demand has been underestimated significantly. The effect of such an underestimate is to overstate the CO2, fuel usage and cost benefits of renewable generation and to underestimate the cost of renewable support payments required. The network model in work stream 3 did not account for the need for maintenance, which will have the effect of increasing reinforcement costs and/or curtailing wind. The model for evaluating the cost of support assumed a perfectly efficient support mechanism. In practice there are certain inefficiencies inherent in support mechanisms and thus the results may underestimate the costs associated with the support required.

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