Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gone Nuclear

With the price of oil pushing $100 a barrel the nuclear debate is going to hot up. A new book 'Power to Save the World' by Gwyneth Cravens describes her conversion from nuclear sceptic to nuclear advocate. She's not the first and she won't be the last.

Her web site has an interesting guide to calculating your exposure to radiation - if you're reading this on a computer then you are currently being irradiated! Though not by as much as when you take a plane.

Like Cravens I have become convinced that nuclear should be part of our future energy mix in Ireland. As our energy security becomes increasingly vulnerable AND the share of renewables (mainly wind) in electricity generation increases, so we are going to need a clean, secure base load source of power. Coal and gas play that role now: nuclear could play that role in the future.

Will Ireland go nuclear? A Eurobarometer survey earlier this year showed that the majority of Irish people would consider nuclear power to protect our energy security and lower our dependence on oil (see page 8). So Irish voters will eventually be willing to go nuclear: it's just that when they do, we'll be at the end of a long queue of other countries who reached the same decision earlier. By which time it will probably be too late ...

By the way: for the most intelligent critique of nuclear power see David Fleming's new paper (an update of a version previously published by Feasta). His argument seems to be 'keep it if you've got it (for now)', or get it quickly as there isn't enough uranium to go round. Another reason not to delay in my view: though obviously that's not the conclusion Fleming reaches!

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