Friday, January 27, 2006

Nuclear - short term fix not long term investment

If the nuclear industry wins a few more of the contracts it's going after, worldwide - say another 20 builds, not beyond possibility - known uranium resources would run out in 30-40 years. Why not invest instead in a technology that will last forever?

The UK Energy Review itself points out that known recoverable uranium reserves would last around 50 years at current levels of demand and a further 30 years is available from decommissioned plants and weapons.

But a global expansion of nuclear power stations would reduce this, but there has been little exploration for uranium since the mid-1980s. Today, mine expansions and new mines are planned in Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil and Namibia.

Uranium is typically refined in source countries but enrichment in the UK is conducted at Capenhurst, near Chester.

The UK has no commercial uranium resource but it could draw on its stockpile of separated plutonium to supply Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel, enough for the lifetimes of two large reactors.

But why go to all the expense when the technology is at a dead end? How can Lord Sainsbury call this technology sustainable? The Science Minister wants his head examining.

Massive investment in renewable energy would make us instead world leaders in technologies that we can sell to the world and provide sustainable jobs - forever, not just for 40 years.

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