Monday, October 21, 2013

Insane Nuclear

I hope environmentalists are happy with the news of the government's deal with EDF and it's Chinese partners for the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation. Nuclear is the logical outcome of the climate alarmism that greenery has foisted on the world. A climate alarmism that the nuclear industry and it's supporters have largely supported along the way, knowing full well that 'renewables' could not deliver and that ultimately governments would have to turn to nuclear as the only acceptable option. It's the same logic that has seen a succession of high-profile environmentalists, like James Lovelock (who views carbon dioxide as more dangerous than the radioactive waste from power plants, nuclear accidents or bomb tests) and George Monbiot, opting for nuclear to keep the lights on.

For those of us interested in promoting new forms of energy, such as thorium power, this is a major setback as it sets huge trains of investment into a technology that is inherently expensive, has huge clean up costs and which has still not solved the problems of waste disposal. While nuclear may not be as dangerous as some of the more extreme anti-nuclear activists claim, it's still carries greater risks than existing non-nuclear generation.

It fails in economic terms too. What the government has done is signed us up for decades more of over-priced energy. Far from bringing our bills down, this guarantees that we'll be subsidising another energy gravy train to match wind and solar.

But we all know that energy policy is no longer about economics and the supply of cheap energy. It's about reducing CO2 emissions to avert 'climate change' that shows no signs on happening anyway. Nuclear, expensive and as dangerous as it is, fits the bill because it's proponents claim that it produces no CO2 emissions. It produces electricity, which is a bonus compared to wind and solar, but not at a cost that makes sense. Absent the concern about CO2 emissions and we'd be looking at coal and gas as the economically viable forms of energy generation.

And of course, what's missing from all of this is any discussion of what shale could do. The capital costs would be lower, the fuel costs lower and of course the potential problems should anything go wrong are significantly lower. In a sane world this would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately this is an insane world where people can think that carbon dioxide is more dangerous than radioactive slurry from nuclear power plants.

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