Thursday, May 18, 2006

Going nuclear

Predictably Tony Blair has come out strongly in favour of nuclear energy. Forget the energy review from 3 years ago (it got the answer wrong, so the government has convened a second one in the hope that they get the nuclear answer right...). Forget the £70 billion decommissioning cost of the existing nuclear power stations. Forget also that long term storage of waste hasn't been solved...

The sudden note of urgency doesn't make much sense, even with the Russians, Venezualans, Iranians and others flexing their energy muscles. Nuclear doesn't drive cars or provide gas for domestic heating or cooking. Neither does the global warming argument stack up.

The best answers to energy use and carbon emissions are micro-generation, renewables and increasing energy efficiency. Why are these not attractive to governments, particularly to centralising governments like Tony Blair's? Because they are decentralised, small scale and don't provide the government with the testosterone rush that huge centrally controlled projects provide. Like unreconstructed Stalinists, centralising governments of all persuasions are fatally attracted to 'prestigious' monuments - such as huge dams and nuclear power stations.

Whatever the reasoning, the move towards nuclear will be a disastrous mistake.

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