Thursday, 30 October 2008

S-Cool 'Nuclear Issue'

The Nuclear Revolution
The nuclear age is well and truly upon use. For the last decade nuclear power has undergone a transformation and has now become one of the government’s most invested sources of energy. Currently there are 19 reactors in the U.K which generate around 18% of our electricity. However, by 2023 only 1 will still be active. [1]The urgency to replace this loss in power has led to an incredible turnaround in popularity of the nuclear plant.

The depletion of fossil fuels has caused a huge energy crisis, leading to more imports of expensive foreign fuel and an uncertainty in supply. In 2006 the Prime Minister announced to Parliament that ‘nuclear power needed to be put back on the agenda’ and ‘without it we will not be able to meet any of our objectives on energy security’. This push towards nuclear was also reflected in the change of public opinion towards the new nuclear build with 65% in favour for it in 2007 than 20% in 2001.

This year has been crucial to the development of the U.K as a leader in nuclear power. In February we became the 21st member of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Gordon Brown reiterated in his speech to the Labour Party conference in September about the government’s plan to cut carbon emissions from 60% to 80% by 2050[2]; something which would be impossible without the use of nuclear power as an alternative source. A £12.6bn takeover of British Energy, the U.K’s main atomic power provider, by EDF of France has led to further plans for new power station builds; 2 in Sizewell, Suffolk and 2 and Hinkly Point, Somerset[3]. Gordon Brown spoke of this as ‘new nuclear becoming a reality’, ‘good value for the taxpayer and a significant step towards the construction of a new generation of nuclear stations’

So what does this mean for us? Many have criticised the shift towards nuclear instead of renewable energy as irresponsible, with fears of a possible nuclear accident and the controversy surrounding radioactive waste and its safe disposal. The accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are constant reminders of the dangers of nuclear. However, the idea of power blackouts and the increase rise in the price of electricity that would inevitably occur if nuclear power was not taken on would be crippling to both our quality of life and economy. Like it or not, nuclear will be a part of our future and the best thing we can do is to inform you all about what nuclear power is, how it works and separate truth from myth.

World Nuclear Association
The Independent Online
Guardian Online