Articles filed under Energy Policy from UK

Why Blair is right about future nuclear power

By placing the possibility of a new generation of nuclear power stations on the agenda, Tony Blair has finally stated what has been glaringly obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense: there is simply no alternative. The prime minister says that without new nuclear stations, by 2025 we will be 80%-90% dependent on foreign gas supplies, and miss our targets for reducing CO2 emissions. But compare his stance to Jack McConnell, whose fence-sitting has typically pleased no-one, and left Scotland bereft of decisiveness on such a crucial issue.  Wind-generated power is often mooted as a clean, sustainable and efficient alternative to conventional supplies. Quite frankly, it is expensive, unreliable and environmentally unfriendly. The cost of power generation by wind is estimated to be 5.35p per kwhr onshore and 7.19p per kwhr offshore, compared to 3.45p per kwhr for coal-fired, 2.57p per kwhr for gas-fired and 2.26p per kwhr for nuclear. So the cost of electricity by wind power is far more expensive than by "conventional" means. It is also unreliable, as wind turbines will always need substantial back-up from conventional power stations since they are not capable of generation when there is little wind or when there is too much. So full "baseload capacity" must be maintained – making the cost to the taxpayer of additional surplus generating capacity unjustified in economic terms, and making subsidies nothing more than blatant environmental tokenism.  So what about wind-power's much-vaunted benefits to the environment and the reduction of CO2 emissions? In its 2005 paper entitled CO2 Emissions Reduction: Time for a Reality Check?, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said that "renewables, even on the most optimistic assumptions, have only a minor impact [on CO2 emissions], despite their prominence in the public debate". There are currently plans to build more than 300 wind turbines in Muirshiel Country Park; necessitating around 50 miles of taxpayer-funded access roads, and the opening of seven quarries – all threatening to devastate the ecology of a huge area of outstanding natural beauty, leisure space and wildlife habitat. That is hardly "environmentally-friendly".  The Oxford Institute states that even for "a Martian visitor, it would be clear that there are two EU countries . . . which have succeeded in delivering significantly lower CO2 emissions than their peers – France and Sweden. They have not done so by significant penetrations of new renewables. Instead, the reason is simple: they both have high levels of nuclear and hydro power". In Scotland, we already have much of that nuclear-hydro combination in place, and the natural and human resources to perfect it.  Hunterston generates around 25% of Scotland's electricity. Its licence to operate runs out in 2011. I urge Jack McConnell and the Scottish Executive to support Hunterston's likely bid for a five-year extension to that date, and in the meantime abandon their opposition to replacement reactors for Hunterston and Torness.
19 May 2006

UK takes steps to prevent winter energy crisis

The review will include a commitment to increase supplies from renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, Mr Darling said. But he warned: “The problem with renewables, on the present technology, is that it’s never going to be enough to supply us with energy we need.”
14 May 2006

Welsh Assembly Recommends Severn Barrage

A £10 billion-plus Severn Barrage which, it is claimed, could generate as much power as two nuclear stations for the next 150 years and more is among the options for 'safe, secure and sufficient' energy supplies recommended to the UK Energy Review by the Welsh Assembly Government.
30 Apr 2006

Coal and Severn Barrage plan for Welsh energy

Mr. Davies notes: "Our renewables objectives embrace far more than wind-power. We want to see a wide range of other technologies developed both at the large and small scale. We are making considerable progress on a range of biomass projects - especially in locally supplied heating systems for public sector buildings such as schools, leisure centres and the new, BREEAM rated Assembly building in Cardiff Bay.
26 Apr 2006

International backing puts nuclear top of UK agenda

THE argument for a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain was bolstered by an international energy watchdog yesterday. The International Energy Agency, which is supported by the world's biggest economies, is poised to conclude that atomic power is the best way to meet the growing threat of global warming and deliver safe, reliable energy supplies in future.
22 Apr 2006

Keeping Britain's lights burning

This strategy should encompass a full range of power supplies, including making full use of this region's remaining coal stocks. Such an approach would negate the risk of fuel shortages if, for example, wind power and other politically-favourable renewable energy sources fail to produce sufficient electricity to meet public demand.
17 Apr 2006
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