Fancy a nuclear power station in your backyard?
A southern nuclear explosion
Brighton, Bristol, and picturesque Oxfordshire have topped the list of places most suitable to have new nuclear power stations bestowed upon them, replacing existing coal or gas fired power stations.
The report was submitted to the government last year. According to The Guardian, Greenpeace made several attempts to force publication using the Freedom of Information Act, but in a response Greenpeace has described as "scandalous", the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) refused to disclose any details until the publication of its energy white paper.
According to a report from independent nuclear consultants Jackson Consulting, which the DTI was court-ordered to commission, the main factor used in deciding a site's suitability is the ease with which it can be connected up to the National Grid.
Leading the pack is the old military station at Harwell, in Oxfordshire. Next on the list are Sizewell and Hinkley, the only two existing nuclear power stations the report considers suitable, and that are available, for construction of the new twin turbine generators.
The report also advises that existing nuclear power station sites are given redevelopment priority. But many of these old stations are not yet available for redevelopment, have poor connections to the grid, or lie in Scotland, a location deemed unsuitable for nuclear power stations, post devolution. Wales is similarly discounted.
So instead, the report suggests redeveloping old conventional power stations. It argues that in cases like these, the construction of a massive cooling tower, for instance, would have less of an aesthetic impact because the existing power station is already part of the landscape.
Greenfield development - that is construction on a totally new, virgin site - has not been ruled out.
The report also says that rising sea levels will have to be taken into account when the stations are built. Most demand, and therefore most construction, will be in the south east - at precisely those locations most at risk from rising seas.
Although most of the sites identified are coastal, the report says building inland should also be possible - such as at the Harwell site.
But the cooling towers that would be needed to make these safe would reduce the efficiency of the stations, add to the cost of construction, and "substantially damage the local amenity value from visual intrusion, causing significant difficulties with local public acceptance".
The DTI said it was still too early to say where the stations should go, and that ultimately the private companies that will build them would propose where they would be sited, The Guardian reports. ®
That's the one that's going to fall off the cliff into the sea in x years, isn't it? Great forward planning, that.
Solar, not nuclear
Regarding Lucy Sherriff's report "Fancy a nuclear power station in your backyard?" (2007-05-24), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the UK (or anywhere else in Europe) because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.
I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and currently provides power for about 100,000 Californian homes. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.
CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of these in Europe! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may, for example, be transmitted from North Africa to London with only about 10% loss of power. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by the wind energy company Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.
The potential is absolutely massive. It has been calculated that, if it was covered with CSP plants, an area of hot desert measuring about 110 km x 110 km would produce as much electricity as the EU consumes. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US "could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or ***about seven times the current total US electric capacity***" (emphasis added).
In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. That report shows in great detail how Europe can meet all its needs for electricity, make deep cuts in CO2 emissions, and phase out nuclear power at the same time.
Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .
Built them at sea
Just like wind farms : Build floating reactors.
Not rising sea level problems.
Guaranteed supply of coolant even during forthcoming severe droughts.
No NIMBY (you can actually move them to somebody else's backyard, including the international waters, aka nobdody's backyard).
Just need to make them hurricane-resistant and to attach them to the grid somehow.