No Need for Nuclear

With a hat tip to Paul Flynn, I'd like to draw people's attention to a new website set up to demonstrate why Britain, and of course Wales, does not need a new generation of nuclear power plants. Click the image:


Most regular readers of Syniadau will know that I am against nuclear power in Wales, but might also have noticed that I have not taken advantage of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima to make an argument against nuclear power based on understandable but largely unreasonable fears. For me, the reasons for being against nuclear power in Wales would be the same whether a large earthquake and tsunami had hit the east coast of Japan or not.

On a world scale, nuclear might still be part of the answer. I would agree with George Monbiot that it is far better for countries like China or India to generate the ever-increasing amount of electricity they need from nuclear power rather than from fossil fuels such as coal. My argument is simply that neither Wales nor Britain as a whole needs it.

Put simply, we can generate more than twice as much electricity as we need from the renewable sources we have in abundance, and can use renewables to meet our entire fuel needs, including transport and heating. Although Wales and Scotland have the lion's share of renewable resources on and around this island, Britain as a whole can do without nuclear, as I noted in this post on the Zero Carbon Britain report last June.

I'm pleased to say that the No Need for Nuclear site—at least what I have seen by skimming though it—puts the case against nuclear in rational way that relies on research and hard evidence. Yet would be foolish not to admit that Fukushima has brought nuclear power to the forefront of political debate, and foolish not to take advantage of the fact that the public are now more interested in the nuclear debate than they otherwise would be. We were in danger of passively resigning ourselves to nuclear power because successive UK governments were not doing enough to make the alternatives a reality ... now we have a much better chance of showing that there is a better way. Take this opportunity. Sign up.

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Anonymous said...

There is a better way - it is <A href=">Thorium reactors</A>

They are fail-safe, their waste is dangerous for only a couple of hundred years, we have plentiful reserves of it in Wales, and it does not produce Plutonium for weapons. China are doing it, why can't we?

MH said...

Thanks, Siônnyn. I'd heard of this before because India had previously indicated that they were looking at thorium. But it's good to know that China is too. It seems to have potential, and the idea of it burning existing nuclear waste makes it particularly attractive as a solution to how we get rid of ours.

I think some of the Canadian reactors can already use thorium, but use it in the same way as they would use uranium, rather than in an different type of failsafe reactor.

I was also interested that the article said there were seams of it in Wales. I had looked before, but couldn't find any reference to any. So I'd be interested to know more.


However, we are still talking about a promising rather than a proven technology. And it might take a while before the world can say it has a safe, stable and easily replicable design. But necessity is the mother of invention, and with both China and India working on it, this might well be achieved in only a few years.

I hope so. I think that if we could get this technology up and running, it would kill off any idea of new uranium reactors such as the ones proposed for Wylfa. That must be a good thing. I think we could put together a very powerful argument that we should put the UK's current nuclear plans on hold for a few years because thorium is offers the promise of something so much better.

But no technology of this sort comes cheap. And the big question we must ask is why Wales, or the UK, needs either uranium or thorium fuelled nuclear power when we have such abundant renewable energy resources. The thrust of our energy policy should be to develop what we have. We're doing that with large offshore wind, but should be doing much more with tidal.

Naturiaethwr said...

MH - you state that "Put simply, we can generate more than twice as much electricity as we need from the renewable sources we have in abundance, and can use renewables to meet our entire fuel needs, including transport and heating". I'm vehemently opposed to nuclear, and particularly here in Wales. However, the UK as a whole is going to struggle to meet transport needs from electricity when peak oil forces the dramatic change to electric vehicles on us all. Politicians of all stripes should be ashamed of their pathetic progress on reducing energy demand, particularly the unionist parties who have had - or currently have - the fiscal mechanisms to curb demand.

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