Tuesday, May 31, 2005

U.K. Nuclear Update

We're continuing to see signs that U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing to help jump-start a revival of that nation's nuclear energy industry. In a television interview on Saturday, one former government minister opposed to the idea said that he thought Blair had already made up his mind.

And you know something has really changed when the Guardian starts running op-eds in favor of nuclear energy that read like this:

Yet it seems wrong to dismiss nuclear energy merely because of our revulsion for nuclear weapons. Atomic power has worked. Today it provides 23% of Britain's energy, which is scheduled to fall to 7% by 2020 as old stations reach their expiry date.

Nobody can propose a credible alternative energy source that is anything like as environmentally acceptable. Anyone who supposes that wind turbines can meet demand is a mathematical duffer. A wind farm the size of Dartmoor would be required to provide the energy of one nuclear plant. In the past, atomic power has been very costly, but in the future it is reckoned that it will be cheaper than fossil fuels if oil prices exceed $28 a barrel (the current price is $50).
Meanwhile, the Council for Science and Technology, the U.K. government's top-level advisory body on science and technology issues, published a paper entitled, "An Electricity Supply Strategy for the U.K." that made the following recommendations:
* immediate investment in large scale, low-carbon, energy generation facilities to meet the Government's carbon dioxide reduction targets;

* keeping the nuclear option open and placing more emphasis on carbon sequestration and tidal power;

* government investment in R&D should be aimed at new and renewable fuel sources, energy management, storage and improving the supply and training of skilled workers in the UK; and

* development of the transmission network, its protection mechanisms and metering systems to facilitate distributed and diverse generators, ranging from commercial to domestic units; and to address the regulatory issues arising from this form of generation.
For our last post on the situation in the U.K., click here.

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