Monday, April 25, 2005

Nuclear Power is Green

With the cosmic concern over greenhouse gases and global warming people are starting to notice that there is an overlooked power source that produces no CO2 - nuclear power. The Independent of the UK shows that it would be much cheaper than renewable energy sources:
Building a new generation of nuclear power stations would be a much cheaper way of meeting the UK's ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than persisting with an expansion of renewable energy, according to research published today. The analysis, by the economics consultancy Oxera, calculates that a new nuclear programme would cost the taxpayer just over £4bn whereas continuing to rely on green energy such as wind power would require £12bn of public support.
The UK has very challenging targets to meet.
The Government has set a target of reducing the UK's carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and producing 20 per cent of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However, Oxera calculates that by 2025, the UK will be running 40 to 60 per cent short of its carbon-reduction targets, based on past economic performance, unless there is a much bigger shift away from fossil fuel electricity generation than currently envisaged. Robin Smale, Oxera's managing consultant, said: "At the moment, the two options available are increasing the amount of nuclear-generated energy or increasing renewables at the taxpayer's expense - neither of which will be popular. From the point of view of the taxpayer, nuclear energy may be a strong contender given its costs relative to wind power."
And the government is preparing to take the nuclear route.
The research comes as Tony Blair prepares to seek backing for the construction of up to 10 nuclear power stations should he win the election next week. A consultation document setting out the case for a new nuclear programme is expected within weeks of a Labour victory.
There are more details in the story.

5 comments:

tradersmith said...

My memory is weak, but can someone again tell me why we stopped WHOOPS? It was probably excessive in the mid-80s but wouldn't it feel like a godsend today?

Ron said...

The scope of the WPPS plants was way beyond the forseeable need. And they started construction before the design was complete. But maybe we should have kept one going. Though I don't think the NW itself is short on power now. Of course Seattle shoots itself in the foot; City Light had to get out of its partial ownership of a generation plant because the City Council doesn't like coal. And the same people want to tear out 4 dams on the Snake River. They get rid of energy sources, then complain about prices being higher.

tradersmith said...

The Sultan reservoir is another endangered dam.

Good thing alumina plants disappeared as well as the huge use of water by the pulp mills.

Sorry, the link between power and water is that high water usage lowers water levels in the rivers, plus these industries used to use lots of water and power.

Bob said...

WHOOPS as well as most of the current nuclear power reactors are LWR (Light Water Reactors) that only use about 2% of their fuel while producing plutonium and disposing of this highly radioactive mess as nuclear waste. A different type of reactor is available called an IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) which can burn the waste of LWRs and the plutonium in nuclear warheads and produces essentially no waste to dispose of. See http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA378.html or http://www.worldandi.com/public/1994/october/ns5.cfm for more info.

Ron said...

Thanks for the sources, Bob.