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Greenpeace Questions On Nuclear Power Answered

We always try to see both sides of an argument and always listen to what each side is saying in any particular case, even if we strongly disagree. Therefore we subscribe to Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear groups to hear what they have to say and we always treat their points with an open mind as if we are wrong on something, we would rather know sooner than later!

Greenpeace Questions On Nuclear Power Answered

Recently Greenpeace encouraged its supporters to put questions to the UK business secretary John Hutton regarding his stance on nuclear power and the future of Britain's energy and his proposals to build new nuclear and coal-fired power stations. Greenpeace gave some examples of what questions to ask him (as shown below) and we have done our best to answer them in an attempt to persuade Greenpeace that nuclear power is the most viable option for beating climate change.

Why have you given the green light for new nuclear power stations when they will at best only deliver a 4 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions sometime after 2021?

Firstly, please note that Greenpeace have not provided figures for how much other energy sources will reduce carbon emissions. For example, even if every area of Britain that was suitable for windmills was covered in them, it would only provide 10% of electricity demands. Secondly, the reason this figure may appear low is because the government is talking about building nuclear power plants in 2's, 3's and 4's instead of doing what is needed, which is at least 50 more reactors in the UK to combat climate change. This would dramatically decrease UK carbon emissions. They need to have these new nuclear plants built by five years ago and as that is not possible, the second best option is to start right away. Delaying the beginning of British nuclear expansion will only make the situation worse.

Why have you given the green light for new nuclear power stations when the first will come online in 2021 at the very earliest, long after the predicted 'energy gap' is due around 2015?

The reason the nuclear plants are coming online after the energy gap is because they should have been built sooner. Perhaps if there had been less opposition to nuclear power by groups such as Greenpeace, British politicians would have been more willing to update and expand nuclear power. They need to have these new nuclear plants built by five years ago and as that is not possible, the second best option is to start right away. Delaying the beginning of British nuclear expansion will only make the situation worse. This point raised by Greenpeace actually strengthens the case to begin building more nuclear plants ASAP.

Even though the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management said it wouldn't advise on dealing with waste from new nuclear power stations, energy minister Malcolm Wicks said on Newsnight that it would be dealt with by deep geological disposal. If this wasn't advice from CoRWM, where did it come from?

We cannot comment on where the British government takes its advise. However, the best thing to do with the radioactive waste is to follow what the French have done and are still doing today. Store the waste in special containers until we find out how to deal with it. After all, we only discovered nuclear power a generation ago, imagine what the next generation could discover.

How will the government achieve emissions reductions of 80 per cent by 2050, as suggested by Gordon Brown, if new coal-fired power stations are approved?

If Britain builds more coal power plants, we agree, this makes the situation worse. Therefore they need to stop building coal fired power stations and start building nuclear power plants on a large scale, to meet emissions targets.

You said recently on Channel 4 News that "we've got to solve the problem of climate change and energy security with the technology that is currently available". As carbon capture and storage has not been proven commercially, how can any new coal-fired power stations be justified?

It cannot be justified we agree. Therefore the government must turn to nuclear energy, a technology that is viable, available and carbon emission free.

Why does the UK not have a feed-in tariff system similar to that in Germany to help encourage renewable energy, including micro-generation of electricity in homes and businesses?

This sounds like a good idea, however “micro-generation of electricity” is not going to close the energy gap. These measure may help, but it will take nuclear power to fill the coming energy shortage.

Why has your department always seemed so hostile to renewable energy and favoured nuclear power, as demonstrated in leaked documents?

Nuclear power is probably favoured as it works and is a far more viable option to solving Britain's energy shortage and security problems.

How do you hope to meet the UK's share of the EU's proposed renewable energy target in twelve years' time when only Malta and Luxembourg generate less than us?

This problem is not a priority. The first and foremost priority is to supply Britain with a secure, stable and sustainable supply of energy. The government should build many more nuclear power plants to secure the UK with energy, then worry about jumping through hoops for Brussels. After all, is the primary concern of the British government meeting the needs of the British people or is it meeting targets set by the European Union?

If you are a member of Greenpeace or are against nuclear power, please post any questions you have in the comment box below and we will answer them to the best of our ability.

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Reader Comments (4)

I think that once the weather patterns over our particular piece of Heaven start to deteriorate on a progressively worse scale, then the general population will decide that nuclear power generation, even with it's waste product problems, is the quickest and cleanest way to provide base load electrical power generation.
I mean, WHAT'S UP,PEOPLE??? We have to get real here and realize that the Third World is not going to solve the problems that we brought on ourselves... And affecting our whole planet... If WE are the culprits who have degraded this planet's atmosphere to the level of CO2 and methane and other gases that are slowly edging the median temperature up, then we, in our daily lives, and our governments had better step up to bat and change their energy policies and red tape.
Okay, I'm off the soapbox... Next?

January 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdaveydog

Frustrating to read everywhere in the media the nonsense about how nuclear power will hardly reduce our carbon footprint.
In France, 80% of powergen is nuclear (plus, in a bigger country they have a subsidised rail network), giving a carbon footprint HALF that of the UK, which has power a mere 15% nuclear (and an unaffordable disintegrated rail system).
Conclusion - we could HALVE our carbon foorprint in a straightforwared obvious way. I rest my case.
As to safety, the famous UK nuclear accident at Windscale was nothing to do with nuclear power, it was to do with the reckless production of plutonium (the heat went to waste!).

January 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNick McElwaine

I have no concerns about the answers to Greenpeace's questions, being a strong nuclear proponent.

However, I would like to know who is providing the answers. I can find no mention of names and affiliations.

Perhaps the silliest and thoughtless comment made by the nuclear opponents is that nuclear won't reduce carbon emissions significantly. However, for a long as Greenpeace et al oppose nuclear and slow construction, then the predominant carbon emitting power stations will necessarily continue to provide the power from mining to construction.

The nuclear opponent's carbon conerns apply equally to the renewables, although they like to pretend that wind power, for example, is carbon free. Well, they don't seem to realise, yet, that from mining to construction of wind generator sites, once again the predominant source of energy for the electricity needs is from carbon fuelled power stations.

I sometimes wonder when that fact will no longer be coveniently and deliberately witheld from their propaganda.

February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Thurgood

Whilst nuclear energy in theory seems a great idea, in practice it is just too expensive and only slightly reduces CO2 emissions. This is due to the long construction time, the carbon intensive refining process and decommissioning time.

Not to mention you are building a wall around a bomb. Several ex nuclear power station workers I have talked to swear against it. It is dangerous, risky, expensive, doesn't reduce carbon footprint that much and can easily turn into an environmental nightmare.

Solar thermal (with molten saline storage for night time energy generation) and geothermal energy offer base load alternatives which are set to become cost competitive with coal in a few years giving off very low emissions.

Lastly nuclear power plants are built to safety standards that make them cost competitive. Unfortunately when the planets don't align we end up with a Fukushima, because it is just too darn expensive to make them safe.

If I was in charge of securing a clean energy future I know what I would choose.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRicho

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