Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Cheap Nuclear - How To Get There From Here
But there is a massive (largely government funded) scare industry against nuclear and thus considerable public fear. So how can politicians safely advocate change without being publicly pilloried.
Well to some extent they can't - if you stand for something you must expect opponents to oppose.
Still there are ways to make it easier.
Despite the media hype the evidence is that everywhere there is more support than opposition to nuclear. For example this recent UK poll shows 43% in favour of subsidising nuclear power and only 23% against. The more remarkable since I, as a nuclear enthusiast, don't think subsidy is either desirable or necessary and would have to be one of the 23%.
Professor Cohen's book - chapter 4 - Is the Public Ready - confirms that popular opinion has long been on the pro-nuclear side, as is professional opinion. Indeed it is only journalists, the less they know of the subject and the less used to actually writing they are, who are against.
So the way to safely get approval is to ask the public. UKIP is committed to popular referendums and this would be an ideal issue. Remember that the people are sovereign and if we were to lose we would have to accept that and prepare for blackouts. But even then, simply by asking and accepting it, we would gain respect (and when the lights go out, not be blamed which is a major issue currently facing all those in power).
Note that it is also probably advisable to get more than just the law on our side. Building new nuclear plants is going to send the eco-fascists apeshit. We need clear popular support when they start real sabotage. The widespread deployment of inexpensive modular nuclear reactors with none of the scare stories coming true would totally undermine and discredit the current pseudo-environmental Luddite movement and we should prepare for not just lies but violence.
This is my proposed question:
"Having received expert opinion that nuclear power is the safest generating system there is and that 90-98% of electricity cost is political rather than engineering, HMG/UKIP/this government wishes to radically reduce regulation of nuclear power, and invest, where there are high profits to be made, in the mass production of modular reactors. Do you concur?" with possible answers Agree/Disagree.
This is actually more impartial than the independence referendum where Yes is inherently a more cheerful option.
I would give it a 4 month period with the government funding recording of 18 weekly, impartially moderated, 3 a side speakers, in an hour long formal debates offered to broadcasters. I would also set up a committee to oversee coverage by state owned media and report whether they have kept to the legal duty of "balance". If they are found to have violated their Charter they will automatically lose their rights, including the right to licence fees, under it. If it were a Scotland only poll the vitiating of the BBC Charter would apply to Scotland alone. The BBC will want to be biased but under that watch and having no control over who speaks on the debates, they would not be able to do much.
I am actively trying to make this a fair referendum and seen to be fair. If we progressives lose then so be it. Anybody in politics should remember that the people should be sovereign when they have made up their minds after getting the facts - even when you think they are wrong. So long as it is seen to be done fairly, even losing, would earn us respect.
But I am convinced we wouldn't lose. As pointed out public opinion is already far more favourable to nuclear power than that of the ruling class; people very much do not like rising energy bills and would be open to any convincing debate and I have no doubt that, as with the warming scare, all the sensible arguments would be on the progressive side. Having handed out energy UKIP leaflets at the Coatbridge by-election, that nobody was one the side of higher electricity bills.
If the past is any guide I suspect the anti-nuclearists could be guaranteed to be against the very concept of formal debate, as the alarmists are, and would thus tend to discredit themselves from the start. I have long been of the opinion that open political debate (the sort where both sides get to debate not the BBC sort where only 1 side is invited) is a necessary and almost sufficient condition for a free society. we3 obviously do not have that today and a side benefit of this proposal would be to make it much easier to get it on other subjects.
Not only do I think we would win I think, that after 18 weeks of genuine debate, a well informed public would vote by something like 90:10 for inexpensive power and an end to recession.
This referendum could be run as a UK one, or by the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish (or English) assemblies, depending on where building is proposed.
My proposal, assuming Scotland votes to agree - if we don't Sellafield or Wales probably will, but this looks like the best option:
An island off the coast of Scotland. 142 square miles, 2/3rds the size of the Isle of Man but with a population of 188.
If the Scottish Tunnel Project is carried out it will be 70 miles, by fast road from Glasgow. Being an island it is relatively easy to stop people getting on and by people I mean eco-fascist saboteurs. Being that close it is virtually in commuting distance of Glasgow.
The government can set up a factory to mass produce nuclear reactors there, probably a joint stock company partly owned by Westinghouse, Hyperion or some other manufacturer with a design ready, churning them out at about $200 million (£140 m) a shot each every few days selling them at about $800m. Looking at Boeing's investment in aircraft I think this factory would cost £10-20 bn.
It could be done entirely by overseas investors but it looks to me to good an investment not to take a share, particularly with UKIP committed to end windmill subsidy which would save us more than that in the 2-3 years before it is making profits.
Put the first 4 on the island, with cable connection to Lowland Scotland and we double Scotland's electricity capacity and greatly reduce the price. Technically power generators should be closer to the customer to save in transmission costs but with power this cheap that doesn't matter and the political advantage of isolation does.
My guess is that in a few years not only would we be supplying all the power the UK wants, at 10% of current costs but gearing up a doubled production line, possibly including of thorium reactors to supply the world too. Jura and next door Islay would become as much the major world centre for the industry as Everett, home of the Boeing factory, is to America's iconic industry. My other guess is that if modular reactors were available for instant installation and clearly working, all the kicking and screaming by Luddites across Europe and some of North America wouldn't stop demand outstripping supply. Indeed that Luddite kicking and screaming would cease be seen as the childish tantrum of those scared of human progress that it is.