Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Victoria's Green Matters - 23rd March 2011

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
Civil nuclear power is a very emotive subject and attracts completely opposing opinions. There are those who believe that we cannot manage without it in an age when fossil fuels are declining and are too damaging to our climate. Others think the risk is too great. After the catastrophe in Japan many more will be agreeing with them.

Japan has suffered major destruction and could well suffer much more if efforts to cool the reactors at the Fukushima power plant do not succeed. We can only hope that their efforts will pay off and millions of people will be safe. The nuclear debate will continue because the UK has plans to commission eight new nuclear plants and many will be appalled by the very idea. We can expect demonstrations and campaigns to get decisions changed.

There are, of course, many nuclear power plants around the world. In fact, 13% of the world’s electricity is produced by nuclear power. Investment is huge and it is impractical to suggest that plants are replaced but much thought must be given to building new. It is difficult to ignore the unlimited power of nuclear fission but too much remains outside our control, not least the problem of nuclear waste, that remains active for many, many years.

The ultimate solution to our energy needs is to develop low-carbon renewables and we are ideally placed, with our extensive coastline, for wave, tidal and wind power. Even though our climate may not be the sunniest, just imagine how much solar energy could be harnessed if all the south facing roofs in the country were covered with photo-voltaic or solar thermal panels. The cost would be a fraction of that of new nuclear plants.

The creation of a low-carbon society must be our ultimate goal if our world is to be a fit place in which to live.

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