Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Speaking truth unto [nuclear] power

Here are two letters sent to The Daily Mail and The Guardian newspapers respectively on truth and nuclear power: The new Business and Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has got off to a very bad start, literally believing nonsense about nuclear power as reported in your business news article (“New Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng must 'get his skates on' and make 2021 the year Government finally commits to building nuclear projects,” Daily Mail, 11 January 2021; https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-9131929/Get-nuclear-plans-Kwasi-Kwarteng-told.html) He told a lobby group, Westminster Energy Forum (WEF), in an interview released on 8 January that it is very difficult to "see anything better than nuclear power" in terms of “clean, low-carbon” power, which will be a key part of the UK's energy system in 2050, adding illogically "Nuclear power is going to be part of the mix and once you've accepted that, then you have to think about which particular projects you're going to promote.” (“Nuclear stands out as clean, dispatchable firm power, says Kwarteng,” WNN, 9 January 2021; https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Nuclear-stands-out-as-clean-dispatchable-firm-powe) That is putting the very expensive and dangerous nuclear cart before the energy horse! Your article also mentions the plans, supported by Mr Kwartang’s Business department, of a Rolls-Royce-led project for half a dozen or more mini-nuclear (small modular, SMR) reactors across Britain. What is not mentioned by Rolls Royce - and other SMR cheerleaders – is, were they ever to be built, such SMRs would have to be built very close to towns and cities, as the re-use of the surplus heat in district heating schemes is essential to make them anywhere near economic. I look forward to ministers like Mr Kwarteng trying to persuade residents that a brand new shiny nuclear power plant at the end of their garden is both an attractive and safe idea. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Your on line report of the Terra Carta initiative at a major event hosted in Paris on 11 January (“Prince Charles urges businesses to sign Terra Carta pledge to put planet first,” 11 January 2021; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/11/prince-charles-businesses-terra-carta-pledge-planet-first-nature-age-of-extinction ) lists inter alia the financial firms BlackRock, Bank of America and HSBC as supporters. Good for them! But also listed among the backers are giant oil company BP ( who a decade ago changed its name, briefly, to “Beyond Petroleum”) and Heathrow airport, who are currently intent on building a carbon-belching new giant runway at their west London airport. In their Preface, the supporters of the Terra Carta, assert that they “acknowledge that the required global trajectory is a sustainable one, where the private sector has a critical role to play. To accelerate along this trajectory, a ‘future of industry’ and ‘future of economy’ approach must be taken”...and the need for net zero commitments to be achieved by 2050 and, where possible, much sooner. “ ( https://www.sustainable-markets.org/TerraCarta_Charter_Jan11th2021.pdf) How are the activities of a giant fossil fuels company and one of the planet’s biggest airports compatible with that ‘global trajectory’? Moreover, in the final section of the 18 page manifesto on ‘Reinvigorating Innovation’ it asserts that “in support of gamer-changers, and in partnership with academic and research institutions, it encourages accelerated investment into STEM, (science, technology, engineering and maths) Innovation and R&D in the following areas, along with other potential solutions.. viii Nuclear fusion.” Including this long promised- but never delivering - chimera technology is misplaced. Were fusion ever to work commercially it would produce significant nuclear wastes (albeit of a different type from current nuclear fission plants) and radioactively contaminated nuclear production units. This fails to meet the overarching sustainability principle of the Terra Carta project.

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