Thursday, 15 March 2012

Towards a Low Carbon Future

An interesting report was published today by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.  The whole report can be found here, but I think the key points in the executive summary speak for themselves (except for the strange repetition of "UK" in the second point):

  • If the UK is going to go down the decarbonisation route there is an enormous challenge in meeting the electricity demand, particularly with its increased use in transport and possibly heating. At present the current proposals for new nuclear reactors will be no more than sufficient in replacing the current fleet.
  • If the UK is serious about developing a world leading capability in the UK we need to develop a long term nuclear strategy encompassing both reactors and fuel cycle.
  • Use of nuclear power to a degree that cuts global warming will require either much higher uranium reserves than currently identified or a change of fuel cycle to minimise uranium use. If the fabrication of MOX fuel is to proceed, it should be as part of an overall strategic plan to maximise the benefit to the UK from the burning of UK plutonium in UK reactors.
  • The structure of the UK nuclear industry is aligned more towards the ‘no nuclear’ stance of 2003 than the ‘new build’ stance of 2012. There is a clear need for an independent body to advise and drive a long- term nuclear strategy.

1 comment:

  1. We're not going to meet the electricity demand at this rate. Especially if the anti-nuclear lobby get their way, because you aren't going to have the energy density or continuous supplies from renewables to service existing demand.

    The oil/coal we have left is best saved for chemicals, as burning it as fuel is one of the most wasteful ways of using what is effectively a non-renewable resource.

    Our best hope for electric is the best of breed nuclear reactors now, work on alternatives like thorium plants to replace them, and then fusion reactors to replace them in a few decades. And we haven't got a lot of time to get caught up in legal battles and delaying tactics with opponents.

    I think we're looking at a decade before the lights start going out with oil, so we'd better do it now whilst we still have power and the national grid to aid the transition. Because it's going to be much harder afterwards..