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Comments

Yonder

Nuclear power is a dinosaur industry that deserves to go extinct. Wind is not much better, but having received a fraction of the state subsidies it is already cheaper than nuclear (according to the International Energy Authority). Yes, wind turbines can be visually intrusive, but when they’ve reached the end of their lifetime (about 25 years) they can be taken down, sold for scrap and you’d never known they’d been there. Nuclear power stations, however, have to be decommissioned at vast cost to the taxpayer and left standing until such time as our distant descendents work out a way of dealing with the mess we left behind. Edmund Burke would not have approved.

But wind and nuclear both miss the point, which is that we need to move away from the centralised production of electricity at facilities hundreds of miles away from the consumer to the decentralised production of combined heat and power at the level of the community. That way we don’t waste fuel generating heat that goes up a cooling tower and electricity that gets lost over endless lengths of expensive power line. So the choice facing Britain is either hand over a fat nuclear contract to the French or put the money into distributed energy systems which put power in the hands of the (British) people.

Huw

We have to plan for how things are not what we'd like them to be. The basic fact is no large country has any other way of distributing electricity than via a centralised scheme of power stations supplying a grid which can respond to demands in different areas of the UK.

On the subject of power stations, I agree things are not looking good. Being a net importer of energy is a very dangerous and indeed embarassing position to be in. Nobody knows what may happen tomorrow which is why we need that security of supply. As much as we'd all like a clean and waste free method of generating lots of electricity, no such option exists. All options carry disadvantages. In the current climate (no pun intended!) with global warming an ever present threat, our options are somewhat limited. Traditional coal and gas fired stations create too much CO2 and other harmful gases, the future has to be in cleaner solutions. That leaves renewables, clean coal technology and nuclear. The renewables do not generate enough electricity and are not as reliable as the coal and nuclear options. A whole mountain of turbines can barely power a village. Clean coal technology needs to be looked at if it can offer all it promises as it is without the risks associated with nuclear. Failing that, nuclear may well be the only solution, thankfully the waste levels that the new stations create are much lower (10% of what the old ones created) and they are safer. The government should get its act together and at least start approval for one or two new nuclear stations or we may well be in a serious position in the next 10 or 20 years if this complacency continues.


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