Sunday, April 09, 2006

Last chance to contribute to the Energy Review

The deadline for making your views known to the Government about the future of energy in this country is the end of the week.

There can be few more important subjects than where we get our energy from - and that we maintain sufficient supplies sourced in the most sustainable manner.

The UK Energy Review has been ongoing for 3 months. After this week the government will chew over all the submissions and spit out their response in the summer.

Some say it's always been a foregone conclusion - that they will opt for a full mix of sources which leaves the door open for nuclear power funded, ostensibly, not by taxpayers.

But this will be a sham, as the private sector simply cannot be trusted with such a task - look at the legacy of many PFI deals and government sell-offs. Taxpayers will have to underwrite such contracts and will end up paying a price for a long time to come.

When I survey the web sites and press artucles about nuclear power I am struck by the wilful short-sightedness of their enthusiasm, and their economy with the truth.

The certainty with which they aver that nuclear is a straightforward and simple fix for all our energy problems is astonishing. These people are scientists and engineers, and they are in love with the technology.

They see energy efficiency as unnecessary, because nuclear power can produce so much energy, and they see all the renewable energies as too diverse, complex, distributed, expensive, unproven and immature to bother with.

For them, nuclear is carbon-free, safer than most technologies, and mature. It is centralised, and therefore easier to deal with. And it is reliable.

Well, many of these things are true. But:
  1. I don't trust them. They have lied before and they are lying and concealing facts now
  2. We don't actually know a lot yet about the effects of radiation - even the Chernobyl accident's effects are not yet fully felt.
  3. Energy efficiency also conserves other resources - necessary for ashrinking planet suferign resource depletion.
  4. Diverse and distributed energy means greater local control, more flexibility, more awareness and sense of responsibility, more local jobs and economic benefit, and active involvement even to the household level in this essential part of our lives.
  5. Nuclear power relies on fuel closely linked to illness, war, terror, insecurity. It is fuel that will run out in fifty or so years.
  6. Renewable energy relies on a great variety of safe, non-polluting, free, reliable energy sources available almost anywhere, that will never run out.
  7. Renewable and decentralised energy projects can make money for anyone who chooses to invest in their local projects, whereas nuclear power makes money for big multinationals and their bankers. A side effect of this is that you have no control or say in it
  8. In the long run, nuclear power will be a far more expensive option.
Perhaps it comes down to personality and ideology which you prefer. The likes of Transport Minister Alistair Darling are gung-ho about nuclear power - maybe it's a macho thing. And that's why it's so difficult to have 'an open and reasonable debate' to use Wicks' words.

Whatever, use the links on the right. Make your views know by the end of the week. You won't get another chance for a long time.

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