Sunday, January 29, 2006

Nuclear Energy and Renewables Can Work Together

In today's edition of the Guardian (U.K.):

Surrounded by some of the world's roughest seas, Britain could generate a fifth of its electricity by harnessing the power of tides and waves.

The potential of marine energy is revealed in a report by the government's energy advisers. Wave and tidal power could replace the electricity that is currently produced by UK nuclear power stations, they state, and could prevent the need for Britain to rely on increased Russian gas imports.
To which Tim Worstall replied:
Wave and tide power are indeed interesting sources of electricity. But, umm, why use it to replace nuclear? Why not get 20% (roughly the current share) from nuclear, 20% from tide and wave? Then we'’d be even better little global citizens, wouldn'’t we?
Once again, we see yet another example of blinkered thinking. Worstall is correct here: There is no reason why nations can't leverage both wave energy and nuclear power in order to offset imports of natural gas. In fact, forgoing either option would put the world that much further away from achieving any sort of meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while building the new baseload electric generating capacity the world will need so much in the years to come.

Thanks to Filibuster for the pointer to the Guardian article.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think "environmentalists" are going to kill any proposals for large-scale development of tidal energy. There will be all sorts of arguments about interference with littoral currents, impacts on marine ecosystems, installation of transmission lines, etc. Just look at the NIMBYism surrounding the proposed Cape Cod wind farm. That is what will face any proposals for tidal/wave power development.

But, that aside, Worstall's point is a good one. If there is any development of alternate sources of baseload electricity that are reliable and economical, probably the LAST thing you want to "replace" with that added capacity is nuclear capacity. Better to replace natural gas-fired generation first, then coal, and finally what little oil-fired capacity there is still out there. NG has better uses than being burned in utility boilers or gas turbines. Displacing coal will help on the GHG issue. Less oil use is just common sense. So keep nuclear around, and maybe supplement it, where feasible, with (so-called) renewables.