The science speaks for itself, yet some people still won’t accept nuclear energy.
Photograph: IAEA Image Bank
Environmental scientist James Lovelock said at the 2005 International Conference in Paris that ‘now that we’ve made the earth sick it, won’t be cured by alternative green remedies like wind turbines or biofuels, and this is why I recommend the appropriate medicine of nuclear energy as a part of a sensible portfolio of energy sources’ (James Lovelock, 2005).
So if Jim Lovelock said nuclear is good, then what is all the fuss about?
An article by the Guardian (2015) talks about the recent £18bn joint venture with China and EDF on the construction of the nuclear power station in Somerset. Said to be completed in 2025, the power station is to supply 7% of UK’s energy. The article explains the ‘flagship of cooperation’ between China and Britain however, sceptics believe the power plant is unsustainable and a danger to Britain’s nuclear security. Undoubtedly, the debate around nuclear energy will be ongoing due to the opposing opinions between scientists and environmentalists.
The science behind nuclear energy is well established and documented. A study by Adam and Kassidas (2009) claims that the operation of nuclear plants save some 10% of CO2 emissions from world energy use. Furthermore, Menya and Rufael (2010) also believes that Europe would not have been able to make any significant impact on reducing CO2 emissions without relying on nuclear energy. Yet as reports are published by international organisations and world renown scientists, there are still opposers around the use and application of nuclear energy.
A study by the Guardian(2011), published statistics of the most anti- nuclear nations. Unsurprisingly, 80% of the population in Germany were against nuclear, as it’s phase out began in 2000. The USA was one of the few countries that favoured nuclear at 52%, whereas the UK was split 50-50 with Sweden.
From this article, as the majority of the UK population was split, it raises the question as to whether education especially surrounding Hinkley Point is needed to ensure that nuclear energy is a safe and viable source that can meet our current and future energy demands.
Statistics on Nuclear Energy: Figure provided by HM Government
Despite the slightly biased graphic produced by the HM Government, the socio-economic benefits of nuclear energy extend to creating more jobs and providing the UK with substantial levels of investment which can in turn increase economic growth. No one doubts that nuclear energy is a high risk energy source.
The weight of evidence suggests that nuclear energy does present itself with a numerous amount of risks however, it could be said that Hinkley Point C provides the only economically viable and long term soution of shifting away from fossil fuel usage. Whether the UK population is willing to adopt the no risk without reward policy is an interesting debate which will continue to be a source of huge controversy. Indeed, Lochbaum, et al (2014) stated that “Nuclear power is an energy choice that gambles with disaster.”
Adamantiades, A. and Kessides, I., 2009. Nuclear power for sustainable development: current status and future prospects. Energy Policy, 37(12), pp.5149-5166.
Carrington, D. (2011). Citizens across world oppose nuclear power, poll finds | Damia Carrington. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2011/jun/23/nuclearpower-nuclear-waste [Accessed 30 Dec. 2015].
Farrell, S. and Macalister, T. (2015). Work to begin on Hinkley Point reactor within weeks after China deal signed. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/21/hinkley-point-reactor-costs-rise-by-2bn-as-deal-confirmed#img-1 [Accessed 25 Dec. 2015].
Jameslovelock.org, (2015). Lovelock: Nuclear energy for the 21st Century.. [online] Available at: http://www.jameslovelock.org/page12.html [Accessed 25 Dec. 2015].
Lochbaum, D., Lyman, E. and Stranahan, S.Q., 2014. Fukushima: The story of a nuclear disaster. New Press.
Menyah, K. and Wolde-Rufael, Y., 2010. CO 2 emissions, nuclear energy, renewable energy and economic growth in the US. Energy Policy, 38(6), pp.2911-2915.
Photograph of Hinkley Point at night: Crowcome Al