Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lord Love a Nuclear Plant

Lord_Hunt Now, we admit we can be a little provincial when it comes to viewing the activities of other countries. We’ve travelled and had longer than vacation-length stays in other countries – still, a little provincial.

So whenever we read a story about a British Lord, we inevitably think of a twit or a criminal rotter hiding under robes and a wig. But consider Lord Hunt:

“We have some fantastically skilled people and in terms of employment new nuclear build offers many opportunities which I want us to take. Nuclear is low carbon, it’s safe and it’s home grown.

Well, that’s about right:

“And the argument for having it in the future is very persuasive. I am very excited at the prospects for people who work in the industry, lots of investment, lots of skilled jobs.”

And so’s that. Who’s Lord Hunt? He’s the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change. We’re not sure where that puts him in the hierarchy of that department – below Secretary Ed Milliband, presumably, and with some responsibilities to the Secretary of State as well. His job description is pretty broad:

Lord Hunt leads for DECC [the Energy Department] on ensuring the UK has a secure, low-carbon and affordable energy supply.

You can look at the page for a full description, but the nuclear parts include:

Low-carbon energy supply: nuclear strategy and delivery

Nuclear safety, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, radioactive waste and international non-proliferation

Currently, he is touring around various nuclear holdings on a kind of listening tour:

“The reason we’ve had this local listening exercises (Braystones, Kirksanton and Sellafield) is because we’re reforming the planning system. It means that for big infrastructure projects like nuclear it is the role of government to set out what the energy policy is, what our needs are, then it will be up to the Independent Planning Commission to make the actual decisions on site applications.”

Seems so – so – sane. We know the British are prone to their own political fireworks, but we really appreciate Lord Hunt’s utterly direct way of stating what he’s doing and why.

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Lord Hunt also has a little blog running to say what he’s up to during this trip – two entries so far – and he demonstrates there the same calm manner as in his quotes.

Back to Penrith with half an hour to spare before setting off to Edinburgh, so plenty of time for a coffee in a nice little cafĂ© by the station. Or so I thought. Had to settle for McDonalds, but I did get to catch up with Simon Virley, my Department’s Director General for Energy, who we caught tucking into a McChicken sandwich before his train back to London.

Probably more information that Virley wanted shared. Lord Hunt further lets us know he bypassed eating and only had a coffee.

Lord Hunt. We could have missed it, but we couldn’t find Lord Hunt’s first name anywhere. He seems to be Lord Hunt all the time.

4 comments:

SteveK9 said...

It's the lack of sanity in our own governmental system that is so scary at the moment.

Joffan said...

Philip.

Jeremy said...

The role of a Lord in the UK is a lot like that of a Senator in the US. The House of Lords is the upper house of parliament.

In the old days Lordships were hereditary, but those are dying out now, although the title is still life-long. There's a long process of reform going on.

Most of the new ones are very senior and experienced former MPs, acknowledged leaders from business or civil society. Sometimes they are friends of the government being rewarded.

Sometimes the title is conferred on someone drafted into the government - like the business secretary Lord Mandelson, who was brought back from being an EU Commissioner to prop up the government. Granting him the title allowed him to be brought into the cabinet without having to be elected as an MP first, neatly sidestepping the normal democratic system.

John E. Pearson said...

What would you consider a reasonable mix for electrical generation? I've gone back and forth between pro and anti nuke for decades, pro because it is largely a green energy source and anti because of concerns about accidents, proliferation, and waste storage.
The thing that blows me away today is that I learned that last year the US installed 10GW of wind plants with 4GW of that in the last quarter. I think you could probably argue that the 10GW should be counted as maybe 3GW of baseload power but still that is not an insignificant amount, especially if one assumes wind continues to grow as it has for the past decade. Over the last decade we have installed 35GW (peak), of wind power.

Could we be completely rid of coal fired plants in say 20 years w a mix of wind and nuclear?