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David Dundas: Why nuclear?

Libconpact_5 David Dundas is a Lichfield City Councillor, Managing Director of Lion Industries and an active member of CPF. He has a science degree from St Andrews and an early career as a field service engineer in the oil industry that finally took him to Brussels, where he worked for Texaco Europe.  He stayed on in Belgium for 22 years, working for several American companies including Dow Corning in their Energy department, and for a time, was a consultant to the European Commission on toxic waste disposal. David also wrote about our energy future last July.

This is the latest in a series of articles about LibCon co-operation.  The editorial on LibCon co-operation can be read here.  The editorial summarises a survey of Tory members' views on working with the Liberal Democrats.

It’s fair to blame Green parties for global warming; they have campaigned long and hard to ban nuclear energy, so nuclear power stations have been shut down around the globe, and replaced with fossil fuelled power stations, that have signficantly increased the production of global warming CO2.  Not only should you thanks the Greens for our global warming, but also the Lib-Dems who are clearly anti-nuclear; while Labour sits on the fence, instead of showing leadership and persuade us that nuclear energy is essential to stabilise our climate.

There are two critical reasons why we must quickly switch most of our energy needs to nuclear power:  security of supply and global warming.

For centuries we had control of our energy supplies, first with coal and later with oil and gas, from countries where our Empire ruled with an iron fist, and later still from the North Sea.  But we no longer control our oil and gas, for it now comes from unstable regions who can cut it off at a moment’s notice; and our North Sea wells are running dry.  Our few nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their working lives, and the present plan is to replace them with power stations fired with gas, mainly from Russia.   Meanwhile the Russians are building nuclear power stations to release their gas for sale to the west.  The danger of leaving our energy supplies in the hands of other, possibly hostile countries, is too risky to contemplate.

With global warming accelerating, we must stop burning fossil fuels very soon, or risk turning large areas of our planet into a Mars landscape.   We must convert energy production to nuclear electric power as quickly as possible.   Any hydrocarbon burning must be limited to carbon-neutral biofuels which do not add to global CO2.  As it is unlikely that biofuels can do little more than meet the needs of sea and air transport which would be difficult to convert to electricity, everything else needs to be converted to electric power;  our cars, heating, public transport, freight vehicles and anything else that burns hydrocarbon fuel.

We hear that vehicle manufacturers are working on fuel cells that they claim can power the ultimate clean transport that produces just steam, but the hydrogen/oxygen fuel is produced by electricity!  So long as electric power is generated from fossil fuels, their clean cars just move the global warming problem to another point along the energy chain.

Whilst wind power, solar power, hydroelectric and geothermal will play an increasing role, there is no way that they can replace fossil fuel burning fast enough to avoid an environmental disaster.  The only solution that can be fast enough, is to convert all electric power generation to nuclear; but that will take quite a few years, even when given priority.  Of course there are big concerns about nuclear power; yes there are hazards in storing those radioactive wastes that cannot be recycled, but these are far smaller than the hazard of global warming, for it is a juggernaut that will take years to slow down, so we must apply the brakes now and nuclear power can do it, if we move fast enough.

Present nuclear power stations work on the fission of uranium, but the holy grail of power generation is fusion energy using deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that is available from the sea and which leaves little or no radioactive by-products.  Fusion power is what goes on in the sun and to sustain it, you need to hold the deuterium at millions of degrees Celsius, not any easy task, which is why sustained fusion energy production has yet to be achieved.  The EU and six other nations have started to build a big fusion energy research facility called ITER in France, but they predict that it will not have developed commercial fusion power for at least 35 years, which is too late to save the planet.  We need nuclear power now, to secure our energy supplies and to slow global warming to a stop.

There is talk that Conservative MPs in a hung parliament, might seek to form a coalition with the Lib-Dems to gain control of the House.  They have a strong anti-nuclear policy; so whilst you might think that they have a point not worth arguing over, please remember that dropping nuclear power would be very dangerous for the security of our energy supplies.  Converting all our electric power generation to nuclear, should be a non-negotiable Conservative policy.


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