Sir David King's enthusiasm for nuclear power is taking us back into the mainframe trap.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the beginning of mini-computers and PCs. IBM and other IT giants examined the new kids on the block, had a laugh at the very early PCs, and endorsed their mainframe development plans.

Everyone is aware of the rest of the story.

This revolution continues and is in fact accelerating. As a result of the introduction of fibre-optic cable, the communications industry is being turned upside down. The growing impact of open source software is reducing the cost of doing business.

Nuclear power is a variant of the traditional and grossly inefficient method of generating power. It is coal generation with a special kind of sauce; a very dangerous kind of sauce. In the same way that PCs have collapsed in price, photovoltaic cells, combined heat and power systems and all the alternatives will continue to improve. This is the result of an industrial process called "learning curve". Very crudely, it means that for every doubling of accumulated output, prices will tend to drop by 20-30%.

Enthusiasts were the backbone of the PC revolution. They are already well at work on all aspects of energy.

Brian Mulholland