Tuesday, March 07, 2006

'No' to nuclear power?

This report by the UK's Sustainable Development Commission was pretty widely reported. Here's a link to the New Scientist coverage: Top UK advisers say 'No' to nuclear power

The research showed that even if the UK's existing nuclear capacity were doubled, it would only deliver an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2035. Increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation could save more sooner, the SDC concludes. 'All the modelling scenarios show it is possible to meet targets for reducing CO2 emissions without nuclear power.'
It is not clear to me what impact this report will have. The upshot appears to be that the UK can meet some vague targets for reducing fossil fuel use without nuclear power, and that nukes are not cost free. But we don't really know much about those targets, how they were set, or if this is really an either/or decision. The nuke lobby seems to think the result suggest that the UK should develop both nukes and renewables.

I'm left wondering if energy markets won't render all this hot air moot. If oil prices spiral up as I suspect they will, UK government targets and quibbling about best alternatives will give way to market imperatives. Everybody quit studying the problem and start building. Now.

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