In the leader column in today’s issue of Building (28 October) you say: “Without a doubt energy is the most important problem we face as an industry and a society.” None of your readers, unless they had some kind of axe to grind, could disagree with the points you make.
However, there is an exception: when you say “three out of four of the readers who responded to our poll on the subject backed a nuclear programme. The industry must reflect this support, and be prepared to work with government to encourage the public to accept it too”.
Those who, like me, have studied the nuclear power lobby’s arguments closely will find that they are pitifully weak – economically, technically, and environmentally. If you believe otherwise, I suggest you read the the report The Oil Endgame, produced by the Rocky Mountain Institute and recently published in the UK by Earthscan. Significantly, Amory Lovins, a first-rank atomic physicist, co-authored the report.
To quote just part of it: “Nuclear power has no prospects in market-driven energy systems for a simple reason: nuclear plants cost too much to build. In round numbers, electricity from new light-water reactors will cost twice as much as from new wind farms, five to 10 times as much as distributed gas-fired cogeneration or trigeneration in buildings and factories (net of the credit for their recovered heat), and three to 30 times as much as end-use efficiency that can save most of the electricity now used. Any one of these three abundant and widely available competitors alone could knock nuclear power out of the market.”
Our “biggest task” is to fight against vested interest, ignorance and apathy – even if the future of the nuclear building programme depends on us doing otherwise.
John Prewer, John Prewer Associates