Decc [Department of Energy and Climate Change] deleted this graphic comparing nukes/wind/solar "because of sensitivities". Says "not inaccurate". Hmm.
This is a post about it by Telegraph news blogger Will Heaven:
It turns out that the Renewable Energy Association called it "unhelpful" in a press release, pleading that "as Ed Davey stressed… it is not an either/or choice".
And here’s the infographic:
It basically shows the land mass taken to generate a similar amount of energy. Well, it really isn’t helpful to the renewable folks, is it?. Wind farms and solar arrays can eat up a lot of space.
Context really matters: if land mass is the key issue, nuclear energy wins. Nuclear energy wins on capacity, too, the potential generated output. Nuclear energy the realizes most of its capacity, wind and solar do not. This infographic doesn’t reflect that.
Imagine that this infographic were about water use instead of land use. Hinkley Point C and the wind farm would change places (let’s leave solar aside) and Hinkley could look far less attractive, a virtual river leech compared to those dry-as-bone turbines. NEI has a good paper about water use, but that’s really beside the point.
This is not an issue with infographics, which can be really handy for communicating a lot of data in a friendly way. NEI has some nice infographics that make do without tacit editorializing. So let’s allow the Renewable Association its concern.
And that concern is not without cause:
Michael Fallon, the Conservative energy minister, said that nuclear power stations will ultimately prove a cheaper and less controversial alternative.
He told The Daily Telegraph: "This is the first in a wave of new nuclear plants to replace the ageing fleet that Labour did nothing to tackle.
"Without new nuclear local people would face many thousands more wind farms blighting our landscape. By contrast, nuclear power is popular in areas that have existing stations and will deliver significant jobs and investment."
We can be thrilled about Hinkley Point C without calling wind farms a blight. Land mass usage is important, but there are a lot of issues to consider – many of them still favor nuclear energy, but the government view does seem a bit lop sided. I agree with Ed Davey: it’s not either/or.