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March, 2009

 
   

Moi, moi, moi ...

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  EDF (of France) and E.ON (of Germany) have threatened our government that they may drop plans to build new nuclear power stations in the UK unless we scale back our targets for wind power (Ref: Terry Macalister, Guardian, 17 March 2009). Well, we and other environmentalists always predicted that the development of benign renewables would be undermined if the government decided to proceed with a nuclear initiative. And this is precisely what is happening. Of course fatuous arguments were put forward, to support the objections, such as the unreliability of wind power and the fact that we could not achieve the targets by these means, but we have no doubt that it is the threat to profits (mainly French) which are really at stake.
    The unreliability of wind power should not be a major problem. Diversity and storage provide the answer and a nuclear option needn't enter into it. What do we mean by diversity? There are several practical examples we can quote with confidence. Take the obvious one where the weather conditions around Britain vary quite widely at any given time; it is most unlikely that the wind will be absent all around our islands at the same time. If it does fall to a low level we could call on other sources of renewable energy for example wet power (waves, tidal etc), direct solar energy and later, non-fossil hydrogen power all of which could be tapped into progressively quite quickly with support from the government. If only they had the knowledge and the will to encourage development of the technologies. As for storage, the concept of hydraulic lifting (during periods of over production) has been around for millennia and more recently the prospect for storage of compressed air in subterranean caverns is believed to be quite practical.
    Regarding the nuclear debate, we feel passionately that the option is to be avoided at all costs. The effects of pernicious radioactive effluent is already evident as is the inability of anyone to solve the problem of waste disposal. Therefore we should not continue to exacerbate the situation by producing more of it. We feel that the UK residents will be the victims of lobbying and profiteering unless the trend can be halted. Right now our main sympathies are with the poor souls in Cumbria where active prospecting for sites is going on. However, the ramifications will be felt by many more in this country at large. Despite living in a democratic society of sorts, the decision to develop nuclear power was a notoriously undemocratic decision (as was the invasion of Iraq) but we can say that there is no way that we would elect politicians in future who supported this initiative. Maybe, just maybe, if the current politicians realised that we felt so strongly this way they might be persuaded to change their minds.
     
   
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Originated: 18 December , 2007,  Last amended: 7 May, 2013