Ten good reasons to resist nuclear proposals
I and the Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose nuclear power. Do not be conned – nuclear power is not green, it will not reduce our carbon emissions significantly, it won t be ready in time to replace our current nuclear power stations, it will be ex
I and the Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose nuclear power. Do not be conned - nuclear power is not green, it will not reduce our carbon emissions significantly, it won't be ready in time to replace our current nuclear power stations, it will be expensive, it is inefficient, it is a diversion from the things we really need to do, it is a target for terrorists, it is not the only way to provide baseload supply, it will not safeguard our energy security and we still don't know how to deal with the waste.
Here are 10 reasons why I am against it:
1. Nuclear power is not green:
Mining uranium requires fossils fuels. So does building a nuclear power station. And so does trying to dispose of radioactive waste. Over its lifecycle a nuclear power station produces as much carbon dioxide as a gas-fired power station (Van Leeuwen & Smith 2005). Better than oil or coal but not carbon-free. And it will get worse. In the not too distant future uranium will become so hard to mine that it will require more fossil fuels to extract it than the energy that will be produced from it.
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2. Nuclear power will do little to reduce our carbon emissions:
Even if Britain built 10 new reactors, nuclear power would only deliver a four per cent cut in carbon emissions some time after 2025. Even the government admits this. That's too late. We need the carbon reductions now. About eight per cent of our emissions come from electrical appliances left on standby. We'd do far better to ban standby buttons.
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3. New nuclear power stations won't be ready in time:
The earliest a new nuclear power station could possibly be ready is 2017 but 2025 is much more likely. But extra capacity is needed in the next few years when a number of nuclear and coal-fired plants are set to close. New nuclear will come too late. We'd do much better to invest in wind, tidal, solar, hydro and biogas (from food waste, animal slurries, sewage and landfill).
4. Nuclear power stations are inefficient:
We need to stop producing electricity in huge power stations hundreds of miles away which waste 60 per cent of the energy they produce as heat through cooling towers and another 7-9 per cent in transmission losses across the national grid. If we produce energy locally and use Combined Heat and Power (CHP), then we can reach efficiencies of 80-90 per cent. Nuclear cannot and never has been made to work with CHP because to distribute the heat you need residents or businesses to be close by. But how many people want to live near a nuclear power station?
5. Nuclear power stations are a target for terrorists:
If you can fly a plane into the Twin Towers, then you can certainly fly one into a nuclear power station.
6. Nuclear power is too expensive:
Nuclear has always been an expensive white elephant. We currently subsidise nuclear to the tune of £1bn per year. In 2005 the UK spent £20m on wave energy research. There's nothing to stop someone building a nuclear power station right now. But the only nuclear reactor under construction anywhere in North America or Europe is in Finland. It's being subsidised by the French nuclear industry as a loss leader in the hope that it will spark a new nuclear building boom.
When the decision was announced Standard & Poor instantly downgraded to "negative" the stock of the Finnish utility commissioning the reactor. In the US, if you want to build new power generation these days, you build wind farms. Which one would you rather have in your back yard - a nuclear reactor or a wind farm?
7. Nuclear power is a diversion of bureaucratic energy:
I know, from talking to a source in the government, that nuclear has taken up a huge amount of civil servant time over the last few years. That's time that could have been spent on renewables, or energy efficiency, or carbon capture. Britain has by far the most potential for wind and tidal power in Europe because of our geography.
Yet we produce just 1.5 per cent of our electricity from wind. Germany gets seven per cent of its electricity from wind, Spain gets nine per cent and Denmark manages a whopping 20 per cent. Those countries all have feed-in tariffs that pay householders more to supply electricity to the grid than they have to pay for electricity they use.
8. It is a myth that renewables cannot provide baseload:
There has never been a day when the wind has not blown somewhere in the UK. The point about baseload is that what you need is enough people in enough places producing electricity. The more you decentralise electricity generation the more secure the baseload becomes. The same principle holds for investing in shares - it's much more risky to invest everything in a couple of big companies than to invest in a basket of shares that reflect all aspects of the market. That's why the Liberal Democrats are calling for a feed-in tariff.
9. Nuclear does not, will not safeguard our energy security:
Nuclear power currently provides 19 per cent of our electricity but only four per cent of our total energy needs. Most of the gas we use is for space heating, hot water and industrial purposes. Oil is used for virtually all forms of transport. Indeed 86 per cent of our oil and gas consumption is for purposes other than producing electricity. Nuclear power cannot replace that energy.
10. We still have no idea what to do with nuclear waste:
I believe climate change is a moral issue and that we have 10 years to deal with it before it deals with us, or rather before it deals with our children and our children's children.
But I also believe that nuclear is not only not the solution to climate change but that it is immoral to build a new generation of nuclear power stations when we still have no idea how to deal with radioactive waste which will stay dangerous for millions of year.
What sort of future are we bequeathing to our children?
Cllr Alexis Rowell
Camden Eco Champion