Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Nuclear Dilemma

Watched 'Week In, Week Out' on BBC tonight. It was based on three young students considering whether Britain should commit to new nuclear generating capacity. I've always been suspicious about nuclear power, but have reluctantly become a convert to the opinion that we no longer have any practical choice but go down the nuclear road. I feel quite angry about this because I'm afflicted by the sense that I've been trussed up by British Governments which have failed to address difficult issues about energy policy for many years. My greatest nightmare is that the 'lights go out' and our Government responds with a panic and mindless rush to nuclear, without the proper safety consideration. Since there is an energy gap almost upon us, I cannot see that alternatives to nuclear have sufficient time to fill it. It has been a terrible failure of democracy.

There are two principal problems with nuclear, the greater of which is what to do about radioactive waste. During the last year that I was an Assembly Member, I chaired the committee looking at radioactive waste policy, and we (the Britsh Government that is) did not reach a definitive answer, beyond a strategy to bury it deep, somewhere, sometime. I'm less concerned about safety (at least as a reason not to build in Britain) - mainly because a nuclear power station is almost as much of a threat to us in France (or Russia for that matter) as it is in Wales. The danger is there whether the UK builds more generating capacity or not. The second main, though lesser problem is cost. Its painfully obvious that energy prices are increasing so rapidly that nuclear is becoming more competitive, but I just don't believe new capacity is not going to cost British taxpayers an awful lot of money.

But I do want to talk to Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology, located near Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire. Paul was on tonight's programme and believes that the UK can switch to sole dependency on renewable energy by 2030. I've agreed to help Darren Millar develop policy in this area, and I do need to at least understand the principles on which Paul makes this claim. It would also be very satisfying to find a way out of my current acceptance of the inevitability of building more nuclear power stations.


Atilla The Hun said...

What about a nuke under the senedd?
It would take a while for anyone to notice!

Glyn Davies said...

The energy needs of the Assembly are already met from renewable sources.

Graham said...

How we get our power is a real dilemma.

I don't like nuclear power for all the reasons you state.

While I like the idea of renewables, I find them difficult to like in practice. Most wind farms are an appalling inefficient blot on the landscape. Likewise the thought of a Severn Barrage fills me with horror.

eric said...

Nuclear is eded and quick, paricularly on anglesey.
Renewables are great but not constant, we ned that constant power, time is not on our side.

Anonymous said...

"The energy needs of the Assembly are already met from renewable sources."

Hot air?

Glyn Davies said...

graham - and gas comes from supplies that look increasingly unreliable. So what do we do - which is why I reluctantly see no real option but new nuclear generating capacity. I think that renewables will be more realistic in 20 years time. Decisions. Decisions.

eric - I fear that you are correct.

Atilla the hun said...

Like the reply!
10 out ot 10