Nuclear power not a popular choice for energy future

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Since we are highly dependent on energy to accomplish our everyday needs, it is almost impossible to imagine the energy shortage, no matter what.

After Fukushima effect wakened the question can we feel safe using the current energy sources available and can we met our energy needs without nuclear?

For some time we are trying to abandon coal and it seems that more and more counties are realising that the nuclear power is not delivering a sustainable energy future to.

According to a recent poll by the global research agency GlobeScan, most counties believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs.

The Agency polled 23,231 people in 23 countries from July to September this year and the results published by BBC News show that just 22% agreed that “nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants”, with 71% which said their country “could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind”.

From the counties having nuclear programmes, comparing with 2005 survey there are significantly increased opposition to nuclear, with only the UK and US supporting the programme. In the UK, support for building new reactors has risen from 33% to 37%.

From the countries which already use nuclear continuing role for existing nuclear power stations while not building new ones was strongest in France and Japan (58% and 57%), however Spaniards and Germans (55% and 52%) were the strongest to shut down nuclear plants straightaway.

The other two polls Ipsos-Mori and the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper published in June revealed not so different conclusion as well.

Tackling the greenhouse gas emissions and growing energy demand are challenges which favour nuclear power in the UK and according to the British Science Association-commissioned poll published in September 41% of respondents agreed that the benefits of nuclear power outweighed the risks, up to 38% in 2010 from 32% in 2005.

In the interview for the Guardian newspaper climate advisor to the German government, Jochen Flasbarth, said that building a new nuclear power stations, will make it harder for UK to switch to renewables.

In March, Germany announced its decision to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. According to Jochen Flasbarth who is advising German government on its nuclear phase-out, it is unlikely for Germany to experience an energy shortage because their energy plan is based on fostering growth of green energies, more than any other industrialised nation. Their calculated cost is no more than 5% increase in the energy bills for the next ten years.

How well is UK prepared for the nuclear future?

The UK energy strategy includes new nuclear reactors which will generate around 16 gigawatts by 2025, and nuclear future that would secure up to 40% of our electricity needs by 2050.

But the recent report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, which has considered how well we are prepared on the future development of nuclear power, concluded that we are not.

The problem, the committee claims, is that successive governments have lacked the necessary vision to invest in the research and development infrastructure needed to keep us at the forefront of nuclear technology. The expertise we’ve built up over previous decades is in danger of being lost as the current generation of nuclear scientists, engineers and regulators reaches retirement, – BBC News published on 22 November.

Since the UK is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, according to the Government nuclear technology is vital to achieve this target as well to secure energy supply and jobs.

The committee says lack of investments and research in the industry could create a skills gap and threatens long-term electricity plans.

A government spokesman said that they are already investing £540m in energy research through the research councils including money to be spent on research and training in nuclear fission.

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