Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blair Rocks Britain With Pro-Nuclear Vow

As you might expect, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech last night backing new nuclear build in the U.K. is stoking conversation across the Atlantic. Here's Peter C. Glover:

Though nuclear power is not the whole answer, until a sensible alternative comes along - and 'renewables' are about as sensible an answer as lighting a match under water - then nuclear power will have to produce around 20% of our future needs, at least - and cut carbon emissions to almost nil.

The environmentalists would soon go quiet once the blackouts, failure of cold water, cold houses and aged deaths started to occur under their crackpot schemes.
Actually, that's pretty tough on renewables. Here at NEI, we believe new nuclear build will make the electric grid safe for intermittent power sources like renewables. Here's Tim Sewell:
Tony Blair has outraged elements of the green movement with his speech last night putting energy diversification back on the agenda "with a vengeance"’.

Why would this be? Because he sees a resurgence in nuclear generation capacity as a central plank of any such programme, which would also include a major push on energy efficiency and renewables. I can see his point.

As he said, we will soon move from being 80-90% self-sufficient in gas (which on present trends will become our main source of energy very soon, for electricity generation, at least) to being dependent by a similar proportion on imported supplies from those noted areas of incorruptible political stability, Russia, the Middle East and Asia. This can't be allowed to happen for two main reasons.
If you're a regular reader, you'll familiarair with the arguments that he makes. Check them out right now. As it turned out, just as Blair was giving his CBI speech, climate scientist James Lovelock was delivering his own in support of nuclear energy at the 2006 Brighton Festival. Click here for an account from Donald Clark.

As you might imagine, there's plenty of impassioned opposition. One good example comes from The Low Carbon Kid:
The Low Carbon Kid says: politics and nuclear power make an explosive combination. When they are in bed together you can be sure, as wrong decisions can be taken for the right reasons, it will end in tears.

So many have told you Mr Blair that nukes - for reasons of timing, security, the long view and expense - are that wrong decision.

Listen, for once.... or leave - and turn the light off as you go.
For more carping, visit Peter Black in Wales.

Our new friends at Potential Energy have started an open thread on the speech and are inviting comments. Be sure to stop by and add yours.

Other stories:

Blair says nuclear power back on the agenda (Reuters)

PM backs new wave of nuclear power stations (The Independent)

Blair puts nuclear power plants back on the agenda (The Irish Times)

Nuclear battle with Wales looms... (ic Wales)

Nuclear power won't need tax cash (The Scotsman)

Britain goes nuclear to beat energy crisis (The Times)

As always, keep up with the latest online conversation with Technorati.

UPDATE: More from Andrew Sullivan.

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9 comments:

distantbody said...

I think it's just a bit pathetic that NEINN is still so scrared of environmentalists that you have to continually suck up to them with your moronic and illogical "diverse energy portfolio" compromise that they will never accept anyway. Shame shame shame.

David Bradish said...

Diverse energy portfolio doens't mean just renewables. It means all sources: clean coal, ng etc... If you don't know this, diversity in energy brings more security, stability and lower prices.

When you become dependant on one source of energy you are more vulnerable to volatility. What's going on with oil and gasoline prices? What happened to natural gas prices when the U.S. built essentially all gas capacity over the last decade?

It's not a matter of us sucking up to environmentalists. It's a matter of understanding how the market works. Think about it.

Paul Primavera said...

I agree with Dave Bradish on this one. In fact, I would imagine that renewables such as wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and hydro could eventually supply 20% of US electricity (occupying the spot that nuclear does now), and nuclear could increase to 50 to 70%.

However, coal is very abundant and will inevitably be used for electricity generation. Whether the coal fired power plant industry can sequester all its wastes (including CO2 emissions) and still make a profit is another question that the Free Market can and should answer.

But I would not discount renewables out of hand. Indeed I would prefer to see 300 MW of wind turbines vs a 300 MW coal plant, and yes, I am aware that wind capacity factor is around 30% which is quite low comapred to fossil fueled baseload power plants. But environmental preservation will force us to use as much renewable energy sources as economically feasible as well as nuclear for base-load supply.

Now here is a really neat idea for wind power:

Revisiting Flying Windmills
Harry Valentine, Commentator/Energy Researcher
< http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=1263 >

I have no idea if Mr. Valentine's idea will work or not, but it is only out-of-the-box thinking like this that is going to wean our dependency off foreign sources of natural gas and in-home dirty coal combustion, and I for one find that every bit as encouraging as the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership:

< http://www.gnep.energy.gov/ >

Hey, if business men and women can make an honest buck off of flying wind mills, then by Goodness, more power to them! I for one will say a prayer for their success. Nevertheless, this will not in any way obviate the overwhelming need for new nuclear power plants, but it will help with US energy independence.

Renewables, nuclear, clean coal - let the Free Market decide.

And I care not one iota what so-called environmentalists who oppose nuclear power think for the intent is NOT to "suck up to them" in a false hope that they will change their anti-nuclear ways, but to do what is best for humanity. Pollution kills and preventing that meets the second of the two foundation-stone principles of all true morality: the non-initiation of force (the individual right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness being the first and that in this discussion is met by Free Market pursuit of flying wind mills, new nukes, or whatever).

distantbody said...

David Bradish..."diversity in energy brings lower prices"

Are you NUTS!?

David Bradish said...

distantbody,

You can't call me nuts and then not have anything to back that up.

Here are a couple of quotes from links I just googled:

"Diverse economies are more robust to shocks in the world economy; diverse portfolios are more robust to market fluctuations; and diverse collections of human capital lead to more robust income streams. The economic perspective on robustness and diversity is perhaps best captured by the adage "don't put all of your eggs in one basket.""

http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~spage
/robust.htm

Here are some other thoughts at this group's blog on Hurricane Katrina:

http://eteam.ncpa.org/news/katrina-
underscores-need-for-energy-
diversity

And here's a quote from Senator Domenici. If you don't know him, he's the Senate Energy Chairman and knows what he's talking about:

“This energy bill is the right choice for American jobs and our national economy. In the face of a growing natural gas crisis, it is the only choice. We must increase domestic production of natural gas. We must diversify America’s energy supply. That’s what President Bush has been saying for two years. That’s what House and Senate Republicans have been trying to do.

“More than 90 percent of the electricity generation built in this country since 1996 relies solely on natural gas. That reliance on one energy source is what got us into this mess. We must get more of our electricity from nuclear energy, clean coal, hydropower, wind and solar energy. S. 14 does just that.

“This natural gas crisis is hitting consumers hard. It will hit them harder this winter. It’s forcing industry to move manufacturing operations overseas, taking high-paying American jobs with them. It’s past time for us to pass comprehensive energy legislation that diversifies our energy supply and increases our energy production. If we had done this two years ago, we might not have this crisis today. I am a strong advocate of conservation, but we can’t simply conserve our way out of this problem. We must act, for the sake of our economy and American jobs.”

You have to come up with something better than name calling. Or is that all you can do?

Paul Primavera said...

David Bradish is again correct. Oligopolies are created by preventing diversity. Witness the stanglehold that Gazprom (the Russian state-owned natural gas supplier) has on most of Europe right now.

As I have repeatedly wrote, the regulatory playing field must be leveled so that the same environmental safety parameters are applied equally across the board. That will force coal and gas to sequester their green house gas emissions and internalize the cost of their pollution. Yes, that will raise the prices at which energy from these sources can be sold, but in turn that would make nuclear even more economical and perhaps even renewables could then stand on their own two feet without government subsidies. Let gas, oil, coal, wind, hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc. all compete in the Free Market under a level playing field. No one industry is eventually going to win over the others.

We will use coal because it is abundant. There will be areas in which wind power is absolutely ideal. Natural gas may well continue to be used to supply residential and business heating. And more nukes will be used to provide electricity. But we need all these sources to compete freely with each, because that is the only way that we the consumer can benefit. Otherwise, we end up with examples like Gazprom. And even as I find Russian manipulation of gas supplies via Gazprom detestable, so also would I find a US federally owned nuclear energy system dominating the country's energy supply detestable. That's nothing more than fascism wherein government has control over the citizens and not vice versa (which is how our Republic was founded). The right solution is ALWAYS the Free Enterprise solution.

distantbody said...

I will reply to both of you tomorrow, after I get some sleep.

GreenGOP said...

Britain shouldn't be so shocked by such a policy. They only need to look across the english channel to see france producing over 70% of its electricity needs with nuclear power.

distantbody said...

Basically It is cheaper/easier to build/operate as little a variaty of energy sources as possible. Thats economies of scale principle. As for energy security, the U.S. wouldn't have to have a costly grip on a half-a-dozen disparate countries around the world like it does now for oil. It would be far easier to form close ties with (and influence) a geographically close nation such as Canada. And if for some reason Canada were to try to use their uranium supply as a political tool ala Ukraine-Russia gas dispute, At least the U.S. army wouldn't have a hard time with moving their forces in, being right next door. Having said that, My ideal energy mix would be 50% nuclear, 25% Gas and 25% biomass.