Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Renewable resourceThey left out a bit about France supplying 5% of the UK's electricity, tho' keeping in the reference to them supplying all their neighbours. France is currently spending 3 billion on building a nuclear reactor complex on the Cherbourg peninsula which is badly placed to serve French industry but as well placed as can be to serve British. Since hysteresis losses in transmission will probably amount to 10% crossing the Channel it would, of course be 10% more efficient if located in England & presumably France will be making a profit on this.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other receivers of government subsidy in the energy industry may be a sensible strategy, but Richard Yemm’s letter (3 December) in support of wind factories has some basic errors.
His claim that "today, wind energy and hydro electricity are the only two utility scale renewable technologies available to the market" ignores the fact that nuclear can be sustained over, at least , the next 4.5 billion years. As that is close to the lifetime of this planet, it seems unlikely that either wind or wavepower will be much use thereafter.
By any fact-based definition, nuclear is a fully renewable resource. If a definition is required to include wind and wave but exclude nuclear, perhaps the term subsidy-demanding technologies would be more accurate.
A further error is in the statement that "robust energy supply systems have invariably utilised a wide range of core technologies". Historically, most energy systems have instead relied for the vast majority of their power on a very few basic reliable systems, with the esoteric stuff being very marginal.
Scotland has, for example, relied on nuclear for 45 per cent of its power, hydro for 10 per cent and coal for the rest. In recent years, gas has replaced much of the coal power and it is apparently hoped that, at some stage, after subsidy of sufficient billions, wind may pass the 2 per cent mark.
However, France is currently relying on nuclear for 80 per cent of its power (at less than a third of the cost of wind), and the fact that it is exporting power to all its neighbours means that its supply system must be considered "robust".
Is it breeder technology you're referring to? Japan still remains comitted to that technology, I believe?
Whether to use fast breeders or thorium or whatever is an economic & waste disposal decision. The important fact is that we need never worry about it running out.
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