The world would have to build new nuclear power stations at the unprecedented rate of four a month if nuclear energy is to play a serious part in fighting global warming, according to a new report by the Oxford Research Group.
The report, Too Hot to Handle? The Future of Civil Nuclear Power, claims that this is both logistically impossible and has major implications for world security that negate any argument in favour of nuclear power:
"For the nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks to be worth taking, nuclear must be able to achieve energy security and a reduction in global CO2 emissions more effectively, efficiently, economically and quickly than any other energy source. There is little evidence to support the claim that it can, whereas the evidence for doubting nuclear power’s efficacy is clear."Unfortunately for the authors of the report, just two weeks ago the World Energy Council asserted that nuclear power will have to be a major part of the new energy mix, noting that "the development of nuclear power in many countries was driven by concerns about energy security and the need for self-sufficiency, but also has significant benefits in reducing emissions." Observing that "countries with a high dependence on nuclear have achieved levels of emissions some 40% lower than countries which are otherwise in a similar position but which have rejected the nuclear option or have a significantly lower penetration of nuclear," it also suggests that "nuclear, like other technologies, is undergoing continuing technical improvements. Many of the existing objections to nuclear can at least be mitigated, and possibly removed, potentially enabling it to make a bigger contribution to meeting the climate change challenge."
The likes of the Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy Spokesperson, writing in the foreword to today's ORG report, may claim "If one were to set out to design from scratch a solution for the problem of climate change in a world without nuclear power, there is little chance that anyone would come up with nuclear power as that solution, or, if they did, that anyone would think that nuclear power was anywhere near acceptable." However, realists are going to need to heed sounder advice from experts such as Professor Michael Laughton, who recently warned that, in its pursuit of other objectives however worthwhile they may be the Government cannot overlook the fundamental purpose of any energy policy. We do not need to build four new nuclear power stations a month in a fruitless attempt to combat a process over which we have little control What we need is to ensure the provision of reliable and affordable energy supplies.