Article

Nuclear Power in Britain's Energy Future

Prime Minister Tony Blair says atomic power will allow Britain to go green, arguing the country can make cuts in its emissions of the pollutants blamed for climate change if it moves away from fossil fuels and includes nuclear power plants in energy plans the next 30-40 years.

LONDON (AP) - The British government embraced nuclear power as a key energy source in the coming decades in a new policy unveiled Tuesday, angering environmentalists eager to promote renewable power sources such as sun, wind and waves.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says atomic power will allow Britain to go green, arguing the country can make cuts in its emissions of the pollutants blamed for climate change if it moves away from fossil fuels and includes nuclear power plants in energy plans the next 30-40 years.

``The challenges are so great that we cannot afford to rule out any low-carbon energy source that could help,'' Trade Secretary Alistair Darling said as he laid out the blueprint before lawmakers.

Environmentalists quickly slammed Blair for backing new nuclear plants despite safety issues and concerns about waste disposal, stressing that Britain lags behind other European nations in developing renewable energy sources - such as solar or tidal power.

Germany, the world's largest producer of wind power, will shut down all its nuclear plants by about 2021.

``Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary,'' said Tony Juniper, the British director of Friends of the Earth. ``We can... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

LONDON (AP) - The British government embraced nuclear power as a key energy source in the coming decades in a new policy unveiled Tuesday, angering environmentalists eager to promote renewable power sources such as sun, wind and waves.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says atomic power will allow Britain to go green, arguing the country can make cuts in its emissions of the pollutants blamed for climate change if it moves away from fossil fuels and includes nuclear power plants in energy plans the next 30-40 years.

``The challenges are so great that we cannot afford to rule out any low-carbon energy source that could help,'' Trade Secretary Alistair Darling said as he laid out the blueprint before lawmakers.

Environmentalists quickly slammed Blair for backing new nuclear plants despite safety issues and concerns about waste disposal, stressing that Britain lags behind other European nations in developing renewable energy sources - such as solar or tidal power.

Germany, the world's largest producer of wind power, will shut down all its nuclear plants by about 2021.

``Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary,'' said Tony Juniper, the British director of Friends of the Earth. ``We can meet very demanding carbon dioxide reduction targets and we can do it quickly - without nuclear.''

Blair, who has been talking about nuclear energy for several months, also argues that Britain needs nuclear power to meet rising demand and to reduce the country's dependence on imports from the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia - particularly since its North Sea oil reserves are diminishing. Moscow unnerved many European nations this year when it briefly shut off supplies to Ukraine.

``What's changed my thinking is not just climate change, but the fact that we're going to move from being self-sufficient in basic energy to a big importer,'' Blair told reporters Tuesday while traveling aboard a fishing vessel at an offshore wind farm on the eastern English coast.

``It's not a question of either/or (nuclear power or renewable energy). It's everything that's got to be done to make a difference,'' Blair said.

Other regions have followed similar strategies. Asia is going nuclear to feed its ravenous appetite for energy, while the United States and Russia are reviving long-dormant nuclear plans. France, which gets 80 percent of its power from nuclear plants, is a leader of the industry's renaissance.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said that proposals to increase efficiency together with a focus on renewable energy would cut Britain's annual carbon emissions by between 19 tons and 25 tons by 2020 - the equivalent of the annual emissions of Greece or Austria.

Environmentalists charged that Britain is still not doing enough to cut greenhouse gases and that the new report contained too little substance on how the plans would work.

``This statement is not carbon-free, it is content-free,'' Alan Duncan, energy spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, said after Darling addressed the House of Commons. ``There are no real policies, no real action, no real decision, no real energy review.''

Darling said the government would lay the legal groundwork now for the construction of new nuclear stations to replace aging ones that are scheduled to be decommissioned. It will hold consultations on proposals for streamlining applications for permission to build new plants, changes that will be set out in another report at the end of the year, he said.

Final decisions on building new plants will have to be made in the next few years, he said. Any new plants will be built by private companies without government subsidy, he said.

Britain's 23 nuclear power stations supply around 20 percent of the country's electricity. All but one is due to be closed down by 2023.

 

 


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/w...

JUL 12 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3459-nuclear-power-in-britain-s-energy-future
back to top