Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Clueless Brown, part 42,369

So our esteemed Prime Minister thinks that one solution to the current spiralling fuel prices is to go for more nuclear power, does he?

Well, I look forward to the announcement that the entire fleet of government cars will be converted so that they can all run on nuclear power.

Actually, I shouldn't joke about such things. Given this government's record for wasting money on stupid projects, they're probably even now commissioning a feasibility study from expensive consultants, spending several million on it and then in a few years time quietly abandoning the idea when they finally realise what everyone's told them from the start, that it's a stupid and unworkable idea.

But on a serious note, nuclear is not the answer to our energy needs, either now or in the future. It's an expensive way of generating electricity (even before the costs of decommissioning are taken into account), there's the problem of radioactive waste lasting for thousands of years, and it doesn't actually do a whole lot to reduce carbon emissions (as Greenpeace points out in the article, even 10 new reactors would only cut emissions by a miserly 4% after 2025).

There's also the problem that the government has said that it will not put any public money into new nuclear power stations. Given that there isn't a single nuclear power station anywhere in the world which has been built without some form of public support, how does the government think that any new capacity is going to be built?

And the opportunity cost of investing in new nuclear power stations is that there would be less investment in renewable forms of energy. Which is most likely to reduce carbon emissions and get us away from our dependence on fossil fuels: investing a few billion in a new nuclear power station or investing the same amount in tidal, solar, geothermal, offshore wind power and energy conservation, as well as new technology to help cars run on cleaner fuel.

Brown's obsession with going nuclear is another demonstration of just how clueless he is.

1 comment:

Stephen B said...

Nuclear is expensive- but only in relation to other forms of energy. In a world where hydrocarbons are cheap I would expect nuclear to become a more viable cost option.

Also, don't imagine that alternative fuels are opportunity cost free - wind farms the size that are needed to actually be of any use require large acres of land or sea to be taken out of use.

But I appreciate we have different ways of seeing the world - nuclear to me is an answer in the short and medium term because it guarantees the lights can remain on and I don't believe the renewable energy can yet do that and won't be able to do that for 30+ years in the quantities required. Constant irregular power supplies is a surefire way to stir up serious tension in a country used to such things.

But I agree Brown is clueless though but I dn't see any parties really dealing with the real issue - there will be less oil in the future and that affects all aspects of our civilisation from the location of suburbia through to the price of food. Any government should be looking to understand what that means for its citizens and how best to adapt to a life less expansive than we currently enjoy.

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