Feeds

Academics kick off nuclear power war of words

Greens see red over Brown's reactor plans

Business security measures using SSL

The anti-nuclear movement has fired an opening shot in the UK energy-policy debate, ahead of expected Parliamentary announcements from the Brown government this week.

The Nuclear Consultation Working Group, a small gathering of academics and activists, last week issued a report arguing that Britain should not build any nuclear power stations.

In the document, reported on by the Guardian on Friday, members of the Nuclear Consultation Working Group argue that recent government consultation exercises were unfairly loaded in favour of allowing nuclear generation to continue. They contend that nuclear power is unnecessary, and that the UK could meet its future power needs entirely from renewable sources such as wind, solar and tidal energy.

Frank Burnaby, one of the report's authors, also said that an established nuclear-power industry would inevitably move on to the use of fast-breeder reactors to manufacture plutonium for use as fuel. Plutonium can be used to make nuclear weapons, unlike current civil fuels.

The shortage of uranium ores ... will lead to the use of fast breeder reactors ... use of fast breeder reactors will carry with it the real risk that nuclear weapons will spread to new countries and that terrorist groups will eventually acquire plutonium, fabricate primitive nuclear weapons and use them in terrorist attacks ...

Burnaby was employed by the British nuclear-weapons programme until 1957. Since then he has been a tireless campaigner against nuclear weapons and power generation. He suggests in the report that the UK could power itself by offshore wind energy alone.

Another of the report's authors, Dave Elliott, professor of Technology Policy at the Open University, says that renewable power sources do not require "base load" backup from fossil or nuclear. It is often argued that base-load capacity is required to deal with power dips suffered by renewables during sunless, windless or slack-tide conditions.

We have become used to the idea that we need 'base load' supply ... However, as more and more renewables like wind, wave and tidal come on the grid system ... complimentary plants can be run up and down to compensate for the variable availability of energy from these sources.

Elliott goes further, saying that significant amounts of renewables and nuclear cannot coexist on the same power grid, owing to "operational conflicts".

The Group said that a recent government-run poll indicating that a majority of the British public were in favour of allowing some nuclear building to go ahead was biased against renewables.

Consultation briefing documents offer ... negative stereotypes. Thus solar power is 'unreliable unless you're in a very sunny climate' ... one policy might be to radically expand support for renewables, so making it unnecessary to consider nuclear ...

Other members of the Group include a former head of Greenpeace International, the former environment correspondent of the Guardian and academics from a variety of backgrounds: two geographers, a zoologist, a chemist, an archaeologist, a biologist, a mathematician and several social and political scientists.

The group's website, including the report, is here

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.