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« Uranium, Gold and Silver: Traffic Trends | Main | Saudi Australia: The Future of Down Under? »
Wednesday
Aug012007

Nuclear Power: The Future

Nuclear Power

Last Year, the IEA (International Energy Agency) voiced their support for nuclear power as a viable way of meeting carbon emission targets and increasing energy security.

This is something the IEA had not done before and they are not alone as the founder of Greenpeace Sir Patrick Moore, Sir David King, the UK Government’s chief scientist and James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory have also voiced their support for nuclear power.

And of course one must add ourselves to that list of pro nuclear figures along with any readers of our Uranium Stocks Newsletter that support nuclear power.

Nuclear power is the overwhelming obvious option to combat climate change and carbon emissions. The Torness nuclear power plant here in the UK emits about five g/kWh of carbon dioxide. Now a regular combined-cycle gas turbine gives out around 400 g/kWh whereas a UK coal plant emits 900 g/kWh. So nuclear power is 80 times better than gas and 180 times better than gas, simply on carbon dioxide emissions, this doesn’t take into account any other factors like energy security and the fact that fossil fuels are running out.

The French have been the smartest country on the energy playing field, as they have been building nuclear plants since oil boomed roughly 30 years ago, they saw how unstable the oil price was. France gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear plants, and 12% from hyrdo-electricty, so there is no need for young French soldiers to die protecting energy resources in unstable areas of the world. The French power company, EDF, estimates that if the UK replaced all its nuclear power plants with gas power stations, carbon emissions would rise by 7.95 million tonnes a year. This is equivalent to increasing the number of cars of Britain’s roads by 40%, that’s another 10-12 million cars.

Despite the nuclear power shining through as the obvious way to go there are still sceptics. The chief executive of Greenstone Carbon Management, Belinda Howell, thinks that there are several reasons why nuclear power is not environmentally friendly. “Uranium is a non-renewable resource and nuclear fission creates long-lasting radioactive waste. Also, scientists have shown that climate change appears to be moving faster than previously predicted. We need to cut energy demand and emissions within ten years, while nuclear power will only start to come on stream a decade from now.”

Let us take a closer look at that statement. At the moment, we do not know how much uranium there is in the world, so if there is enough to last humans for the next thousand years, is nuclear power not worth a shot? Breeder reactors are getting a lot better and we think there will be a major breakthrough soon, probably when the governments of the world designate a decent proportion of their budget to nuclear research. We cannot argue with the fact that nuclear energy produces dangerous waste, but this waste can be stored for many years and in time science will have found a way to deal with the radioactive waste. If climate change is moving faster than previously predicted then we should be moving fast to build nuclear power plants that we need yesterday. There is no way you are going to cut, curb or even slow down the worlds increasing energy demand. China, India and other up and coming countries are going for a full-scale industrial revolution. Nobody can tell them to turn their lights out or stop the assembly lines, especially western countries as we have had our industrial revolution and we are still living of the benefits. We cannot turn around and tell them to stop theirs. Cutting energy demand is not an option. Cutting emissions is possible with a switch to nuclear power and even if it takes ten years we should start now instead of taking the attitude that it’s too late now so we might as well give up. When nuclear power was discovered, the world should have begun building nuclear power plants in earnest, all over the world. It might take 10 years for newly constructed nuclear power plants to come on stream and start cutting carbon emissions, but the fact is that if we don’t start building nuclear plants now, carbon emissions will not be cut at all. Also, like the majority of nuclear power critics, Belinda Howell has offered no alternative to nuclear power. Why? Because there isn’t one.

People also tend to bring up the terrorist threat, which is a genuine concern, but nuclear power plants are protected against possible attacks. You can fly a jet aeroplane into the wall of a nuclear power plant and the plane will explode but the wall will not be breached in the slightest. It is true that the failed London bombers had plans of Sizewell B, a nuclear plant in Britain, but that does not mean that they were anywhere near being able to launch an attack. The fact that they choose to attack the underground trains may say something about the daunting nuclear power plant security.

There appears to be a bit of a fuss over the recent energy bill passed in the US senate, where a one sentence provision could make builders of new nuclear plants eligible for tens of billions of dollars in government loan guarantees. Why is this so shockingly bad? Let us hope that the US Government does give its nuclear industry the $50 billion loan it needs to carry out a large expansion program. This makes a lot more sense to us than subsidising cotton farmers so they can sell their products to third world countries, where people are starving as they can't sell their cotton as the American cotton is cheaper due to the subsidies. It also makes more sense than paying farmers to grow crops for bio-fuels, burning food is quite possibly the most ludicrous idea we have ever heard of, and the bio-fuels scandal will be cover in depth in a future article.


We do not understand why some people can still be anti-nuclear with the wall of evidence in its favour and the rapidly growing threat of energy security and climate change. We will try and convince the sceptics that nuclear power is a good idea because the only way we will get governments to move on this issue is to sway public opinion. This isn’t about making boatloads of cash in uranium stocks; this is about stopping a global crisis.

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