We are All Downwind of a Nuclear Power Station
Last night members of Radiation Free Lakeland lobbied Lancaster City Council asking the council who are fully signed up to acknowledge the Climate Emergency to include a No New Nuclear clause in their climate emergency planning.
The council agreed with us that renewables are the way forward and it is brilliant that members are actively involved in local community renewable schemes . However it is chilling that they thought that writing in a No Nuclear Clause to their Climate Emergency Planning is not necessary because as they said ‘Heysham, number 8 on the list it is not likely to go ahead’. This rather misses the point that the continued push ( billions of pounds of public money) for new nuclear is decimating urgent steps towards renewables and energy efficiency. The sole reason we are in the situation we are in is entirely down to the continued efforts of the nuclear industry and its vested interests to suppress renewables. This has gone on for decades (remember Salters Duck ?) and continues now. The nuclear and fossil fuel industry are mutually intertwined with the biggest gas plant in the UK under construction (please correct if this is wrong) being built now at Sellafield to ‘look after’ the nuclear wastes another consignment of which arrived today!
The government is continuing with its nuclear new build programme virtually unopposed by mainstream NGOs and now by Extinction Rebellion who have ‘no position on nuclear’. This is dangerous. While people are vehemently encouraged and fully supported to stare down the Climate Change wolf at the front door – the full pack of Nuclear wolves are already climbing in the back door. “Not likely to go ahead” is not good enough Lancaster City Council – Come On!!!
Salter’s Duck – unlimited wave power??- not likely say the Nuclear Industry..Gotta leave room in the Grid for nuclear!
The untimely death of Salter’s Duck
Traditional energy generators have generally not assisted the necessary moves towards renewable technology. While hydro and biomass are long-established, if under-used, parts of the power hierarchy, wind, solar and wave power must still battle to establish themselves. And they must do so against heavy odds, such as scant funding and even sabotage. The case of Salter’s Duck is illuminating.
The Duck is a 300-tonne floating canister designed to drive a generator from the motion of bobbing up and down on waves like a duck. It was developed in the late ’70s by a team headed by Professor Stephen Salter at Edinburgh University. This was one of several research groups set up after a 1976 judgment by the Department of Energy that wave power was the most promising renewable energy source.
By 1982, a consultant was able to report that the duck could be expected, with further development, to produce electricity at a cost of around 5.5 pence (about 12 cents) per kilowatt-hour, a price competitive with nuclear power (the most expensive commercial generation process in use in Britain). Clive Grove-Palmer, a respected department engineer seconded to work on the duck project, estimated that the cost could be got down around 3 pence per kilowatt-hour (about 7 cents).
Soon after this, the department’s research and development advisory council (ACORD) met, excluding Grove-Palmer, and accepted a secret report, prepared by a unit based at British Atomic Energy Authority headquarters, claiming that wind power had more immediate commercial possibilities than wave power, and research funds should be shifted to it. The department, which was packed with nuclear supporters, had instructed ACORD to reduce its renewables research budget from £14 million £11 million. At the time, the department was spending around £200 million on nuclear research.
Grove-Palmer took early retirement as a result of the decision. “I resigned … because they asked me to write the obituary of wave power. There was no way I could do that … We were just ready to do the final year of development and then go to sea.”
It was eight months before wave power researchers were allowed to see the report on which ACORD based its decision to junk their work. Then, in January 1983, a research unit based at the Atomic Energy Authority came out with another report concealing the good figures for the Duck by averaging them in with figures for all wave power projects. This gave a non-commercial figure of 8-12 pence per kilowatt-hour.
Apparently still not satisfied that they had killed the Duck, opponents of the project then produced figures overestimating capital costs by a factor of 10, massively underestimating the reliability of undersea cables, and claiming that in mass production each Duck would cost about the same as one prototype.
After a long campaign to save the project, Professor Salter’s team was forced to disperse in early 1987. “We must not waste another 15 years and dissipate the high motivation of another generation of young engineers”, wrote Salter in a memorandum to the House of Lords committee on renewable energy. “We must stop using grossly different assessment methods in a rat race between technologies at widely differing stages of their development. We must find a way of reporting accurate results to decision makers and have decision makers with enough technical knowledge to spot data massage if it occurs. I believe that this will be possible only if the control of renewable energy projects is completely removed from nuclear influences.”
This article was posted on the Green Left Weekly Home Page.
From Keep it Green
Q: What industry still exists today after making a loss of more than 3,000,000,000,000 euros to the world economy?
Since the UK instigated this unsustainable industry in 1951, the global industry has made a loss of…
674 (no of plants) x 4.8 (average loss of each plant) billion euros = 3,235,200,000,000 euros
Or 3.2352 TRILLION euros
Isn’t it time to choose a sustainable choice for the planet and our future?