Monday, November 03, 2008

nuclear power - not the climate solution

The nuclear power industry has rebranded itself as our climate saviour.

Looking into it (ignoring the issue of nuclear waste), it would only deliver relatively small carbon cuts, only in the long-term, but at huge cost.

Meanwhile, things that are more effective and cheaper can be on-stream sooner.

I've done an article on it all that's just gone live at U-Know called Nuclear Is Not the Climate Solution.


Grinnyguy said...

I very much enjoyed your article and agree with what you are saying. I have yet to be persuaded that renewables will be a good enough soluton soon enough, but it's the best we have.

If we switched from coal and gas to nuclear, we'd simply run out of uranium and not solve any of the problems (like global warming) that we have today

merrick said...

Grinnyguy, I agree with you - as I hope is clear in the article - that renewables alone cannot be the solution.

The most important (and quickest, and cheapest) is energy efficiency. We have to get our heads round the fact that tyhere is no alternative fuel that can match up to fossils.

Anyone who thinks we can grow enough fuel crops to replace oil fundamentally misunderstands what oil is. Fossil fuels are millions of years of solar energy captured and stored by plants. You're simply not going to find a plant that can get the same energy in a year, no matter how good your processing is.

Thing is though, nukes can't be on stream for a long time. This means they're no use to us in making the most important emissions cuts - the ones we do in the next decade or two.

Beyond that, there's the problem with the unreliability of many renewables. If the wind isn't blowing your turbine's not generating. We need some kind of back-up and that, to me, looks like fossil fuels. Nuclear - impossible to turn on and off quickly - is no use to us there.