I trained as a nuclear physicist and have followed the industry closely. I thought that nuclear power would have a key role in ensuring that we keep greenhouse gases to a minimum. The Fukushima disaster showed how safe nuclear power is – a modern power station got hit by a tidal wave and suffered an earthquake that caused the land to drop several meters and no-one died. As at Chernobyl the total number of excess deaths from cancer are expected to a few hundred at most. This is seemed a small price to pay for saving the 7Bn citizens who inhabit spaceship earth from the effects of global warming.
However the situation has now changed and no longer necessary to use nuclear power to generate electricity without greenhouse gases.
- It is cheaper to build a new solar plant than run an existing coal fired plant (an much cheaper than building a nuclear plant).
- The former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission thinks that the costs of nuclear power exceed the benefits.
The world needs carbon-free electricity and it needs a lot more of it. The IEA warns that we are only installing “only around 60 per cent of the net additions needed each year to meet long-term climate goals”.
Science and industry have done their bit. It is now cheaper to generate electricity from renewable energy than fossil fuels.
“Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives. What they mainly need are stable policies supported by a long-term vision but also a focus on integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and optimal way. Stop-and-go policies are particularly harmful to markets and jobs.” IEA
Energy markets are controlled by politicians and our planet’s future in their hands and the hands of the voters who elect them.