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Why renewables feature in nuclear debate

At a press conference repeated questions about the prospects for replacing Scotland's nuclear power plants saw the First Minister move on from the old coalition mantra about postponing decisions until storage issues are resolved and shifting the emphasis on to renewable energy. Although his party has been embracing a new nuclear generation, McConnell remains on Labour's environmental wing, closer to his LibDem coalition partners than his comrades who represent Hunterston, Torness and Chapelcross.

Fancy a nuclear dump in your back yard? It seems the latest solution to the problem of storing radioactive waste is to find a community that really wants it, with accompanying jobs. This, after all, is an industry with a future – a 24,000-year future.

Britain's and Scotland's nuclear future is going to be decided within weeks, and the mood music is rapidly changing in advance of Whitehall's announcement.

Jack McConnell has dug out his old Friends of the Earth membership badge and the faded T-shirt for his summer holiday in Arran. Yesterday, he was coming over all green.

At a press conference repeated questions about the prospects for replacing Scotland's nuclear power plants saw the First Minister move on from the old coalition mantra about postponing decisions until storage issues are resolved and shifting the emphasis on to renewable energy.

Although his party has been embracing a new nuclear generation, McConnell remains on Labour's environmental wing, closer to his LibDem coalition partners than his comrades who represent Hunterston, Torness and Chapelcross.

Having discussed it earlier this month with Tony Blair, he wants to shift Labour's position to avoid being cast as the dirty polluter... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Fancy a nuclear dump in your back yard? It seems the latest solution to the problem of storing radioactive waste is to find a community that really wants it, with accompanying jobs. This, after all, is an industry with a future – a 24,000-year future.

Britain's and Scotland's nuclear future is going to be decided within weeks, and the mood music is rapidly changing in advance of Whitehall's announcement.

Jack McConnell has dug out his old Friends of the Earth membership badge and the faded T-shirt for his summer holiday in Arran. Yesterday, he was coming over all green.

At a press conference repeated questions about the prospects for replacing Scotland's nuclear power plants saw the First Minister move on from the old coalition mantra about postponing decisions until storage issues are resolved and shifting the emphasis on to renewable energy.

Although his party has been embracing a new nuclear generation, McConnell remains on Labour's environmental wing, closer to his LibDem coalition partners than his comrades who represent Hunterston, Torness and Chapelcross.

Having discussed it earlier this month with Tony Blair, he wants to shift Labour's position to avoid being cast as the dirty polluter in the next 10 months of campaigning.

With or without prime ministerial backing, that means a continued blockage on building new plants in Scotland.

It makes some political sense. While Whitehall is expected to announce that new nuclear plants will be necessary, they are unlikely to go up all at once. Phased building of new plants are likely to go near centres of growing population, to minimise the energy loss in transmission. That means southern England.
Scotland can wait, at least until the battle for public opinion is won in the south, until next year's election is out the way, and until private companies are willing to risk the Scottish political minefield. Torness is one of the newest plants in Britain.

The pressure to replace it is much less, so it is only in a second wave of renewal that new Scottish reactors would be in play.
McConnell, meanwhile, wants to stress Scotland can provide the renewable bit of the energy equation.

Much of that depends on technology that has yet to prove commercially viable, including wave and tidal power, and carbon capture, which means pumping climate-changing fumes into empty oil wells.

Scotland also has the scientists to develop cleaner coal technology, which staff at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) last week pointed out could be Scotland's biggest contribution to limiting pollution in fast-developing countries, such as China and India, where coal is booming.

As with Jack McConnell, the academics' heavyweight report enthuses about renewable energy, but claims too little has been done either to plan onshore windfarms strategically, or to link them up to the grid connections.

The committee reckons the current row over vast pylons marching from Beauly to Denny is only the first of many. If the rest of the west coast is to be exploited as the Saudi Arabia of renewables, many more pylons will be needed along Scotland's most scenic glens, taking power to where the people are.

The RSE also stressed that Britain's energy efficiency is woeful. We have building standards that lag far behind the rest of chilly northern Europe and are poorly policed, while our household white goods and electronic gizmos are left on wasteful standby.

So with the construction industry complaining furiously about increased costs of higher building standards, and anti-windfarm and pylon protesters on the march, the sidelining of nuclear will win enemies as well as votes.


Source: http://www.theherald.co.uk/...

JUN 28 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3263-why-renewables-feature-in-nuclear-debate
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