Thursday, January 10, 2008

The power of the atom

The UK government has given the "go-ahead" for a new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain. Given that our electricity currently comes from a mix of North Sea oil/gas, oil/gas from Russia and the Middle East, and a number of hamsters running around in wheels connected to 9V batteries, the decision is a good one.

It's especially important given that the North Sea oil is about 95% used up and all of our current nuclear plants will have to shut over the next 30 years. Until nuclear fusion is developed to more than an option in Sim City, we're going to need a reliable, cheap and low-carbon option for a lot of our power. Wind and solar power are fine for micro-generation and supplements, but what happens when it's cloudy and raining? (It does happen occasionally.) Tidal power has potential - and it's certainly reliable - but only for 10% of our power at the most. Or we could reopen the coal mines and get burning, but that's not exactly the most sustainable choice.

You might have noted the inverted commas around "go-ahead" above. The government is excellent at "approving" major projects (Crossrail springs to mind) but doesn't have such a glowing record at actually getting stuff built. The government paper can be downloaded here. Let's hope we see some nuclear power plants online before the brownouts begin.

No comments: