A couple of days ago, the UK government completed its most recent energy review and issued a green paper titled “The Energy Challenge”. Alistair Darling, MP, wrote the preface for the paper and clearly stated the UK’s energy challenge:
Energy is essential to just about every aspect of
our life and to our continued economic prosperity. But today, we face two big challenges: climate change and security of energy supplies.
Without urgent action, at home and abroad, we face a damaging rise in temperature bringing with it a huge threat to our planet.
At the same time, the UK is entering a new era for energy supplies. For years, we have been self-sufficient in gas and oil, thanks to North Sea production. There are still many years of production there, but in future, we will increasingly depend on imports to meet demand. That is why it is so important to look for ways to cut demand for energy. Our aim must be to grow our economy whilst cutting waste and using every unit of energy as efficiently as possible.
There was nothing particularly controversial about those opening statements or the next paragraph where he talks about net metering and energy saving light bulbs. He even manages to avoid controversy for one more paragraph, where he lists a host of low carbon options like off-shore wind, tidal power, cleaner fossil fuels and carbon capture. It is not until the middle of the final paragraph on the first page that he says something that has caused a significant uproar in the press and by certain focused opposition groups.
The mix of energy supply in the UK has served us well over many years. And that is essential for the future too. Cleaner coal, oil and gas, more renewable sources of energy. But we also need to look at nuclear power.(Emphasis added)
As might be expected, Greenpeace International is trying to use its opposition to any nuclear power projects as a means to drum up more donations. The lead article on their web site this morning proclaims
Blair goes nuclear, ignores climate solutions
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has so far only managed nice words on global warming while ignoring effective action on real solutions. Now he has chosen the dangerous, expensive false solution of nuclear power. This seals his true legacy – huge amounts of nuclear waste that will last for millions of years.
(Right below that paragraph is a link titled “Support Us” that leads to a large banner add asking you to “DONATE NOW”)
The Scottish government has announced its opposition, the Liberal Democrats believe that the challenge can be solved by “renewables” and energy efficiency alone, and Friends of the Earth Wales calls nuclear power a threat.
The good news is that there are places like Cumbria where they have active nuclear supporters and political leaders that understand the benefits of nuclear energy. In an article titled Nuclear boost for Cumbrian economy there is good coverage of support for the pro-nuclear language in the energy review.
But Copeland MP Jamie Reed and Workington MP Tony Cunningham said the policy will allow the area to become an internationally acclaimed centre of excellence for the nuclear industry.
Mr Darling’s announcement heralds a fresh round of lobbying to convince ministers that west Cumbria should be the natural first choice for any new nuclear plant.
It has also been confirmed that Mr Darling will visit west Cumbria on Friday, fuelling speculation that he may announce the choice of Lillyhall College as the site of a new nuclear academy.
Whatever the outcome of the visit, yesterday’s announcement makes it more likely than ever that nuclear power will continue to be a central feature of west Cumbria’s economy for decades.
There WILL be more discussions and disagreements about the use of nuclear energy. It is a very big dollar decision, with lots of market share up for grabs. Do not believe for a moment that the coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, and tidal interests will not work hard to dissuade investors from choosing their nuclear power competitor. Following the dictums of Sun Tzu, who said, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, do not be surprised to find some unusual coalitions united in their opposition to new nuclear power stations.
All that means is that supporters of the technology, who can do the math and recognize the value of stable energy prices, emissions free power generation, high technology jobs, and freedom from dependence on unreliable or differently motivated suppliers need to work just as hard to talk to the undecided masses that repeatedly get told lies about nuclear power.