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Minister declares nuclear 'renewable'
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:01 am    Post subject: Minister declares nuclear 'renewable' Reply with quote

Do you laugh or cry?

Quote:
NUCLEAR power is a renewable energy source, a government minister has declared, indicating a growing acceptance that future energy sources will have to be nuclear.

In a debate on energy security in the House of Lords, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the Science and Innovation Minister, was asked whether he would reclassify nuclear as renewable energy. He said: ?Lady O?Cathain offered me the opportunity of . . . agreeing that nuclear is a renewable source of energy ? it clearly is so.?


The Times Online
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The House of Lords are very pro nuclear. They had a debate on climate change a couple of months ago and pretty much every other speaker voiced support for nuclear. I think it's inevitable that this government will go for a new nuclear build however I think they are going to have a hard time actually building it - shortage of skilled labour in the EU. How many designers, builders, people to run the safety case etc are there in the EU? And won't they be called on by Finland, France, Italy... and anyone else who?s building? Not only is nuclear expensive, unpopular with public but there isn't the skilled labour to even build the things!
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mikepepler
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I'm generally anti-nuclear, because of the unsolved waste problem. However, with my "peak oil hat" on, I do wonder if it might be worth the UK building 10-20 of the modular AP1000 reactors, and then buying up 50 years of fuel and sticking it in a warehouse somewhere.

The reason is this - nuclear is the only form of thermal power plant where you can actually buy all the fuel up front and store it - it doesn't take up much space. This would give us a safe electricity supply for a period, while we concentrate on getting the renewable energy in place. Of course, Chris' comments about lack of skilled labour are a problem, and yes, it is expensive.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mikepepler wrote:
OK, I'm generally anti-nuclear, because of the unsolved waste problem. However, with my "peak oil hat" on...


I think the peak oil hat is a good reason not to go nuclear. What is the major characteristic of post peak society? Having less energy and therefore being able to do less than before. The whole idea of powerdown, contraction, localisation etc is that we face a future of austerity compared with the present abundance. If we can agree that we'll be poorer (in our ability to do stuff) in the future than we are now we need to avoid doing things today that create work for the future, work we might not be in a position to undertake.

This is exactly what building a nuclear reactor does. It creates a job for the future, decades worth of decommissioning and waste management. Are you confident that the UK will have the ability in 50 years time to successfully and safely decommission a reactor commissioned today? Decommissioning the current fleet is likely to cost over ?50bn, luckily we can afford that today. Decommissioning costs are likely to be less for a new build but we're also likely to be much poorer in the future. We only have to look at some of the former Soviet Union countries for an example of how much of a problem old reactors are when the country is poorer now than when they were built.
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:

I think the peak oil hat is a good reason not to go nuclear. What is the major characteristic of post peak society? Having less energy and therefore being able to do less than before.


The british public, in my opinion, will not support or vote for that proposition.

When the alternative is presented to them in New Labour / Birt speak, as I think it shortly will be - 'clean green climate friendly renewable nuclear power' or power cuts and poverty , I think they will beg for nuclear power.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed! I'm not saying it won't happen but rather it shouldn't happen. I guess nuclear is fine if we have growth. The reason we are able to 'deal' with the previous generation of nuclear industry is that our economy has grown to a level where we can afford to. Do you think we would be able to deal with the current decommission programme if the UK economy (and technical ability) was weaker now than it was in the '60s and '70s? We wouldn't have a hope as the former Soviet Union countries are discovering today.

When talking about a new nuclear build I don't think (due to peak oil) that we can count on another half century of growth to put us in a position to be able deal with the legacy.
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
Do you think we would be able to deal with the current decommission programme if the UK economy (and technical ability) was weaker now than it was in the '60s and '70s? We wouldn't have a hope as the former Soviet Union countries are discovering today.


You are right, Im not disputing that. In the case of national poverty we wouldnt go to the expnse of dismantling hot old reactors, we'd just cover the lot in concrete and walk away. The thought of doing that is not goint to deter the national desire for an electricity supply at any cost.


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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:47 am    Post subject: Re: Minister declares nuclear 'renewable' Reply with quote

DamianB wrote:
Do you laugh or cry?



Cry! Crying or Very sad


Can anything be done about this? The two individuals concerned ought to be severely censured for talking rubbish,


Peter.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:56 am    Post subject: Re: Minister declares nuclear 'renewable' Reply with quote

Blue Peter wrote:
DamianB wrote:
Do you laugh or cry?


Can anything be done about this? The two individuals concerned ought to be severely censured for talking rubbish


Nope. They are speaking in Parliament. They can say more or less whatever they want in there and get away with it. Its a privileged environment as far as freedom of speach is concerned. The only thing you cant do is call another member a liar or start swearing...

Besides , it's just politics. Part of the softening up exercise. There's a lot more to words than their literal meaning. Link 'Nuclear' with 'Renewable' = green, clean , environmentally friendly, climate fiendly.

Spin. Image control. New Labour reality control.
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Ballard



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the latest copy of Building ?The Energy Issue?

?The energy minister knows a crisis is looming ? what he doesn?t know is how to find a quick fix. Instead, he?s looking at all the long-term options ? such as wind farms in the South-east and plans for a new generation of nuclear plants.?

He says we need a new fleet of Nuclear power stations, but the Government isn?t going to pay for them,

In another article it is mentioned that if all electricity production is switched to Nuclear we will have enough uranium for 6 years.

http://www.building.co.uk/issue.asp

http://www.building.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3058164&encCode=8027513881BC469098808JTBS737226611
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
The House of Lords are very pro nuclear. They had a debate on climate change a couple of months ago and pretty much every other speaker voiced support for nuclear. I think it's inevitable that this government will go for a new nuclear build however I think they are going to have a hard time actually building it - shortage of skilled labour in the EU. How many designers, builders, people to run the safety case etc are there in the EU? And won't they be called on by Finland, France, Italy... and anyone else who?s building? Not only is nuclear expensive, unpopular with public but there isn't the skilled labour to even build the things!


That's very interesting, Chris. Is this a recognized problem in the industry?

I presume that this arises because after 3-mile Island and Chernobyl, not many new nuclear power stations have been built. When was the last one built?


Peter.
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Ballard



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malcolm Wicks

The energy minister knows a crisis is looming ? what he doesn?t know is how to find a quick fix. Instead, he?s looking at all the long-term options ? such as wind farms in the South-east and plans for a new generation of nuclear plants.


28 October, 2005

By Thomas Lane

It?s a cold comfort, but If the lights go out in this winter, at least we?ll have someone to blame. That someone is Malcolm Wicks, the MP for Croydon North and minister for energy at the DTI: he?s responsible for ensuring that we will have affordable and sustainable energy well into the future.

Wicks, who became minister in May this year, could not have chosen more interesting times to take on this job. Britain?s North Sea oil supplies are running down, her nuclear power stations are wearing out, energy consumption is increasing, fuel prices are soaring and last week Wicks had to admit ? after a warning by the CBI ? that if we are struck by a particular cold winter, fuel shortages could force businesses to shut down.

By his own admission, the energy situation in the UK is serious: ?Last year we became a net importer of gas and in a few years we will be a net importer of oil because of the long-term decline of the stocks in the North Sea.? Nuclear power contributes 20% of Britain?s electricity but Wicks knows that this will fall to 7% by 2020. He also knows he has to meet the UK?s target of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010.

Right now Wicks has placed every reasonable option on the table, including renewable energy, new-build nuclear and even coal-fired power stations that capture the CO2 they produce, allowing it to be stored in such places as under the North Sea.

Wicks is already committed to renewable energy. A recent energy white paper mentioned a target of producing 10% of our national energy from renewables by 2010, a figure that rises to an aspirational target of 20% 10 years later. ?That represents an ambitious programme,? says Wicks. He is particularly interested in promoting wind power: ?At the moment, in practice, the wind turbine is the most advanced technology when it comes to renewables.?

But his enthusiasm for wind turbines has upset many in the photovoltaics industry, who accuse him of favouritism. Wicks? response is unapologetic: ?I?m a bit dismissive of people who say ?now you are promoting this and that, it means bad news for us?. I just think that is slightly pathetic really and I see a major role for photovoltaics. It still needs some support, and it has already had a good deal of support.?

?North Sea oil supplies are running down, nuclear power stations are wearing out, energy consumption is increasing and fuel prices are soaring ??




Whichever renewable technology wins through, Wicks is determined that the wider goal of encouraging the microgeneration of energy in buildings should succeed. The government will be launching a funding initiative for its low carbon buildings programme in April, but when asked for more details Wicks says only that there will be an announcement later in the year as to how much money will be available and how it will be allocated: ?We will just have to wait and see what that says.? One thing is certain, though: there will be a greater focus on large developments rather than individual householders.

Another thing that Wicks is unequivocal about is the responsibility of the individual householder to improving the energy efficiency of their homes. ?One of the reasons why I?m personally enthusiastic about micro power is partly the symbolic and educational value of enabling individuals and communities to become part of the solution, with more householders thinking that micro turbines and photovoltaics are for them,? he says.

He is equally clear that if householders want to install these technologies they, and not the government, will have to pay for it. ?We don?t want to get into a grants culture ? after all, many householders are pretty well off people and they think nothing of buying a car, a plasma television screen or the third iPod,? he says. ?How can we get those people as interested in micropower? Or on a more mundane but even more important level, just insulating their loft space? I haven?t got an answer to this question but it is very much on my mind at the moment.?

People are also going to have to get used to large-scale energy generation projects on their doorsteps. Wicks has just given the go ahead for 26 wind turbines occupying 1000 acres of the Romney Marsh in Kent ? amid howls of protest. In defence of the project, Wicks says: ?Wales and Scotland are very good places for wind turbines but the South-east has got to play a role in this. We may see more wind farms in the South-east in areas like the Thames Estuary, although I can?t prejudge anything.?

If the public is ambivalent about wind farms, it knows its own mind when it comes to nuclear power: it is deeply hostile. Although Wicks maintains that he is ?genuinely nuclear-neutral?, he says: ?We have got to look at nuclear again with an open mind and proper scientific scrutiny. We?ve got to look at people?s fears and the advantages of nuclear in terms of it being a clean, UK-produced energy source and we?ve got to look at the downside in terms of the waste issues, public fears, the cost issues and who is going to pay for it.?

?We?ve got to look at nuclear with an open mind. We have to look at people?s fears and the advantages of nuclear in terms of it being a clean energy source?




Wicks reckons that slightly more people are against than for nuclear power but he is presumably hoping that the large, undecided group of people in the middle will come out in support should the government opt for more nuclear power stations. He sees public support as vital to the success of any nuclear programme.

But even if a nuclear programme gets past the protesters, there is still the sticky question of who will actually pay for it. ?It will have to be funded by private investment,? says Wicks. ?We have a market economy in energy so we no longer fund major infrastructure for gas or electricity, and we are not going to be in the business of doing that for nuclear new build.? But Wicks concedes that the expense of such a nuclear programme will necessitate some kind of government support. ?What we will need is a very special relationship between the market and the state,? he says. ?I do recognise that the economics of nuclear is one of the crunch issues that will have to be looked at.?

Even if Wicks gets the public support he needs and works out a special relationship with the private sector, there is still the planning hurdle to overcome. It took six years to get planning permission for Sizewell B, the UK?s last nuclear power station. Factor in the time to build it ? another seven years ? and the lights will have gone out long before the first of the new stations comes online.

But Wicks has other ideas. ?If we go down the nuclear route then how we can speed up planning and other relevant consents should be part of the agenda. That?s not to say these things can be done in a couple of years but it shouldn?t be beyond the wit of us to think of ways of reducing the timescale.?

Whatever Wicks decides he faces intense months of lobbying by the groups with a particular interest in the technologies being considered. In fact, the lobbyists are already queuing up: manufacturers body the Engineers Employer Federation has just published figures saying nuclear power is cheaper than gas, wind farms or coal, and a group of MPs from coal mining areas are waiting to see Wicks as the interview concludes ?
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Totally_Baffled



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Problem is , can we really get through post peak WITHOUT nuclear?

Im not sure we can?
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Minister declares nuclear 'renewable' Reply with quote

skeptik wrote:
Blue Peter wrote:
DamianB wrote:
Do you laugh or cry?


Can anything be done about this? The two individuals concerned ought to be severely censured for talking rubbish


Nope. They are speaking in Parliament. They can say more or less whatever they want in there and get away with it. Its a privileged environment as far as freedom of speach is concerned. The only thing you cant do is call another member a liar or start swearing...

Besides , it's just politics. Part of the softening up exercise. There's a lot more to words than their literal meaning. Link 'Nuclear' with 'Renewable' = green, clean , environmentally friendly, climate fiendly.

Spin. Image control. New Labour reality control.


Someone has suggested that the meaning is that nuclear should be classed as a renewable for the purposes of the Climate Change Levy. If so, it's still badly worded, and I'm not sure that I trust them,


Peter.
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally_Baffled wrote:
Problem is , can we really get through post peak WITHOUT nuclear?

Im not sure we can?


I believe we could if there were sufficient information disseminated and planning and investment made. What I fear is that the easy option will be taken to maintain the current paradigm and the harder choices left for another generation.
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