Monday, November 09, 2009

Nuclear Power, Yes Please

At least there's one Labour Cabinet Minister willing to face up to difficult questions. Ed Miliband has announced today that there will be a new generation of nuclear power stations. He regards nuclear power as a "safe, low carbon option to help tackle climate change". Even if you ignore the argument about climate change, he's right to look at nuclear power as a major part of our energy provision over the next few decades. It's just a shame that this government has dithered so much on this issue over the years and lost a lot of valuable time.

Sadly, environmental groups have jerked their knees and declared that nuclear power is not the answer. They avoid saying what the answer is, of course. They rule out coal and they don't much like any other form of power generation apart from wind and wave. But even they cannot seriously contend that all our power needs can be met through wind and wave power. It's just not possible.

So while they continue to snipe from the sidelines those who hold the decision making powers must get on and make those tough decisions. And this is one which Ed Miliband has got right - albeit maybe for the wrong reasons.


Anonymous said...

"And this is one which Ed Miliband has got right - albeit maybe for the wrong reasons."

errrmmm...what 'wrong reasons"?? weird.

scott redding said...

"They rule out coal and they don't much like any other form of power generation apart from wind and wave."

That's pretty unfair. Solar? Combined heat and power? Energy efficiency? All of these are cited as ways to avoid dirty, non-renewable, fuels like coal and nuclear.

The Guardian:

"Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said claims that nuclear power was the only way for Britain to meet demanding greenhouse gas targets were fundamentally wrong ... Anderson said the separate demands of the transport and heating sectors meant that nuclear power supplied only about 3.6% of total UK energy used: "If you've got money to spend on tackling climate change then you don't spend it on supply. You spend it on reducing demand." Dr Anderson said wider use of energy efficiency measures such as house insulation and fuel-efficient cars could almost halve energy demand.

PSB said...

The wrong reasons presumably being that climate change is a left-wing myth.... A myth for which there is a complete scientific consensus.

Quiet_Man said...

@ Canvas, he has it wrong because he sees it as green carbon friendly. Not because it safeguards our energy needs from potentially hostile foreign governments.
Were Labour not trying to con us into being climate change aware, nuclear power would still be a politically unacceptable no, no.

Jimmy said...

Do you know what your own party's position is on this?

Anonymous said...

When WILL the penny drop? The Ecofascists are not against CO2 or nuclear per se, they are against Mankind who are a parasite destroying the Planet. Mankind must resort to a few small tribes leading a nomadic Stone Age existance "in harmony" with the Planet.

They are only for "green" energy because they know it cannot produce enough to keep us at out current levels of prosperity or reproduction.

Denny said...

He certainly got it right at the wrong time. We needed to start building 5 years ago. The whole planning system needs to be abolished.

Kate j Norden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Haffey said...

The problem with Nukes is the waste material. Typically it has a half life of 30,000 years: roughly ten times recorded history. And it would require several half-lives before it became anywhere near harmless. Let's say 10 half lives.

So we're talking about storing something safely for 300,000 years, give or take a few tens of thousands.

Now, where are you going to put it that you can have confidence it will be stored securely? How will you warn future generations of the toxicity of what they might find, when their language and symbolism may have changed in unimaginable ways? How can you be sure the location you choose is safe from geoligical changes? Do you know what any part of the world looked like 300,000 years ago?

Despite these concerns, I don't see any alternative to nuclear. But we need either to tightly limit its use or find a way of recycling the waste into something that's not toxic.

Anonymous said...

no way!!
you're not still dissing 'climate change' believers, Iain?! Are you? wow. if you are...that's really ignorant.

Kate j Norden said...

@scott redding Are you seriously advocating all efforts being redirected toward reducing demand?

@econyonium This is a useful representation of the views of about 0.01% of our population, thanks!

Kate j Norden said...

@canvas I read it that Iain feels some lobbyists for the environment are not being clear about how exactly they would address the energy problem. What is/are your solution(s)??

Roger Thornhill said...

Miliband knows that to try and generate all our power without coal gas, oil OR Nuclear is male chicken.

Shame that numptie Brown sold off the excellent Westinghouse nuclear technology operation to the Japanese for a few pieces of silver that he then zazzed up the wall to fund one of his vote-buying operations. Moron.

Build more stations where we already have it. If the Scots don't want it, fine, just build them in England and sell surplus electricity to them for a premium.

If Miliband was really serious, a couple of hundred million - a mere bagatelle in this industry - could be allocated to funding Polywell Fusion.


1. Nobody is arguing about "Climate Change", for that has been happening for about 4bln years.

2. There is NO CONSENSUS and even if there were, I am more interested in facts and the truth than "consensus". Consensus my painted backside. The data fed in to the "models" has been shown to be flawed in a big way, which is why the "consensus" scientists do everything to obfuscate it and hide the raw data.

3. The issue should be about the scale of man-made effects upon this natural process. The impact could be 0.01%, 10%, 0%, but science cannot begin to equate it and the religionists know this, as we now only hear of "Climate Change" and not "AGW". Once the scale is determined then the possibility of reversal needs to be proven. While all that his happening, the core task should be to work towards mitigating any effects before trying potentially in vain to reverse it. If the sea is rising, build sea walls, not plonk your throne on the beach.

4. Global warming is nothing compared to the pain and misery that will be caused by the eventual global cooling that will arrive at some stage as we re-enter a cooling phase and move out of our temporary warm period.

Oliver Drew said...


The only problem I have with Nuclear Power is what do we do with the waste afterwards?

(No doubt this has been dealt with already mind...)

neil craig said...

It is now 3 1/2 years since Blair decided to support nuclear. A reactor can be built in 3 which shows how the delay is entirely because of parasitic politicians (in all parties - the Tory record on nuclear isn't good either|).

What Balls has not mentioned is that nuclear is far & away cheaper than the alternatives - 1/17th of the cost of the offshore windmills Labour is also still committed to. My guess is that he doesn't mention the low cost of nuclear because Labour intend to scoop up all the savings to give to windmillers & other party donors.

Scott - perhaps you could name the countries whose economies use substantial amounts of solar, CHP or have cut energy use (without a recession that is). If not why not just include perpetual motion?

Sean, though it is widely claimed, you are wrong to say that nuclear waste will be around for 30,000 years. This is simply a fabricated scare story. Reactor waste, about 1 cubic metre per reactor year, precisely because it is highly radioactive, has a short half life & is safe to handle in 50 years & less radioactive than the ore it came from in centuries.

Compare that with the current eco-fascist standard bearer - carbon storage. That requires us to put about 160 million tons of acid producing CO2 per year stored at high pressure underground not for a mere 30,000 but forever. If anybody in the eco-fascist movement were remotely either honest or concerned about the environment they would be enthusiastic about nuclear over carbon storage.

The average family spends £1200 annually on domestic electricity when, if we were enthusiastically nuclear it would be £300. Since only a 3rd of use is domestic the overall extra cost is £2.700 per family. That Ball's didn't mention this as a reason shows how unconcerned about the wellbeing of the people the Labour parasites are.

Nigel said...

Right decision, at long last.
And he even acknowledges how late it has been left, and the need to short circuit the planning process.

Well done.

gravenimage said...

It is frustrating that the issue of nuclear waste is not treated in a more pragmatic way. A typical reactor generates about a swimming-pool-sized amount of high-level waste per gigawatt-year of energy; this is a very small amount when compared to the tailings from coal-mining, CO2 pollution etc.

And yes, it is of course exceedingly nasty stuff - but surely it's at least worth considering whether making a few tens of acres of our land surface hazardous is an acceptable trade-off. People use the longevity of the waste as an indication of it's evil-ness. But nothing is for free, and I consider the waste a price worth paying for the lights to stay on and for climate change to be minimized.

Simon Gardner said...

Well that was begrudging. Seems like he is getting it right for the right reasons.

Unlike the Lib Dems who are completely dotty on this issue.

[Verification: commy :-) :-)]

Paddy Briggs said...

There should be diversity of primary energy sources in Britain for electricity generation. Nuclear certainly; clean Coal (it does exist!); Natural Gas - especially from LNG imports; and economically justifiable renewables such as wind and wave power. Never put all your eggs in one basket...

The King of Wrong said...

That'd be "complete" consensus, apart from all the scientists that disagree.

What's that I hear? A "No True Scotsman" fallacy?

Edward Sutherland said...

Right decision taken at long, long last. The government should have had the courage to take this decision five or six years ago.

Tom said...

I was going to say something nice about Ed Miliband, but you've disabled anonymous comments!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Of course he is right, but they have left it so late they have had to by pass all the planning regulations to do it. Seat of the pants government that I find strange you have not refered to Iain.

Are you a secret Labour man

peter_dtm said...

Nuclear Waste

1) We invented AGR technology to deal with this - but Windscale/Seallerfield/Whatever the heck its now called has been castrated. The correct use of RADIOACTIVE waste is to -- er power a nuclear reactor (just an engineering problem)

2) Subduction zone - dump the long term waste (which after 1 above is a few cubic metres GLOBAL totale per century ) into a subduction zone - job done.

AGW - there is NO consensus. The models predicted continuous warming - not one model prediction has yet come about - from climate change; to troposphere heat signature to sea level raise. Since the predictions made by the theory do NOT tally with empirical data then the theory is bust belongs with those other great consensus theories; flat earth; earth- centric; helio-centric etc.

Build me a nuke in my back garden PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...

MikeyP said...

If anyone is looking for a site to dump nuclear waste, there is this isolated place in the north of England whose inhabitants deserve something horrible inflicted on them. It is called Sedgefield!

Joe Public said...

There is (and has for the last ten years or so) been only one energy solution for this country.


Coal's too dirty.

Gas is a waste of a precious commodity.

And as for risk - if a frog nuke goes tits up, guess where the fall-out drifts to?

Kate j Norden said...

Where are your sources/URLs for your 'facts' on production/storage/usage waste? How else can we begin to judge which poster of comments is likely to be nearest to the truth?

Ben said...

Well yes. The only problems are:

It's around twenty years late

It's being done in the certain knowledge that Miliband won't be responsible for the implementation (nor any of his colleagues)

And it's accompanied by sinister measures for overriding planning law and democratic processes.

Apart from that, perfectly laudable.

Nigel said...

>>Where are your sources/URLs for your 'facts' on production/storage/usage waste? <<

If you want some figures, you could start here:

Or you could try google.

>>How else can we begin to judge which poster of comments is likely to be nearest to the truth?<<

By doing some research for yourself. The only realistic option for a sceptic.

PSB said...

@the king of wrong

Open a copy of Science, Nature or any other peer-reviewed scientific journal. There simply isn't a debate there.

PSB said...

@Roger Thornhill

1. Granted, but consider it shorthand for anthropological climate change.
2. Yes there is, open a scientific journal (n.b. the Spectator is not a scientific journal). Or ask the Royal Society, or NASA, or the UNFCCC. I love the use of the speech marks for "models", as if it is a dirty word.

neil craig said...

Kate Norden has asked for links:

The best overall assessment I have seen comes from Professor John McCarthy of Stanford's FAQs

The Westinghouse costing 3 years to build comes from

obviously the extra time 7 cost can only come from government regulation which is why i call it parasitic.

I saw an FoE guy on C4 news last night saying nuclear was more expensive & we must take that as representing the very highest standard of honesty to which FoE & anybody in the eco-fascist movement who has not called them liars, ever under any circumstances aspire. On the other hand it is clearly a complete & total eco-fascist lie.

Rossa said...

One slight problem with all of this is that there is only one company in the world, in Japan, that builds the casings for the reactors. Max they can produce is 12 a year and every country in the world is queuing up to order from them, apart from the UK. So the idea that we can have all these brand new nuclear power stations in less than 10 years is a load of hot air again.

And EDF and the other foreign companies who are responsible for building these plants are hardly going to give priority to the UK if their own countries need to increase their own nuclear output are they?

Same as the idea that we could have all those off shore wind turbines by whenever. Logistically it was completely impossible to achieve as there isn't enough resources to build let alone put them in position in the North Sea or wherever they were to be sited.

So stock up on candles and firewood. The lights and the heating will start to go off very soon.

neil craig said...

This is an article about the Chinese signing up for a reactor & starting building within a month.

Clearly it is physically possible to do so. Of course you have to have a government which isn't medieval, regimented, corrupt, bureaucratic, hidebound, opposed to progress & run by mandarins. Fortunately for China & unfortunately for us....

I think that while boilers are a bottleneck, capacity is not quite as limited as Rossa thinks & that it is being expanded to meet demand fast.

The King of Wrong said...

@PSB: Well, checking a bunch of peer-reviewed scientific journals (CL, T.ACM, ACM Queue, ACM TALIP) suggests that you're right, there is no debate on climate change - but that's hardly surprising given that they're in different fields.

I'm ignoring journals whose existence presupposes the existence of global warming, for what should be obvious reasons.

In Nature, there are very few - I couldn't find any in a brief search - papers on the subject. There are a few letters and a huge number of editorials.

Sadly, the editors have no authority whatsoever - do you remember just a couple of years ago how they abused their position to push a faked "study" showing that Wikipedia was as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica?

There are now journal and conference papers leaking out which deny the IPCC's "consensus" - getting published is a slow business, and lags of even a couple of years are normal.

One might suspect an abuse of process to publish a paper, keep the data hidden for a couple of years, and rush through policy - knowing that by the time the data is exposed, and the counterarguments made, it will be a fait accompli.

David Lindsay said...

Of course we should be developing nuclear power, and applying clean coal technology, for reasons including (though far from restricted to) the simple and indispensable principle that we should never be beholden to any foreign country, regardless of which one it is. This island stands on coal. And we can obtain uranium from the Canadians, who are not foreigners, but Her Majesty’s Loyal Subjects. There are also several other Commonwealth possibilities. We do not need either Arab oil or Russian gas. So we must, if necessary, force ourselves to do without them.

Our natural alliance with Russia is based on something far deeper, namely her pre-eminence within the Slavic defence of our Biblical-Classical civilisation. Our unnatural alliance with the Gulf despots, however, really is based on oil. We need to return to the true, good and beautiful alliance in the Russian case. And we need to discard the false, bad and ugly alliance in the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Emirati case. Indeed, by doing the latter, we shall be doing the former: participating in the defence of the True West.

As we shall be by giving our people real jobs - abiding, and with decent wages and working conditions - both in coal and in nuclear energy.