"Carbon Capture" technology is in the news, after Alastair Darling announced his decision to scrap a carbon-capture technology which has cost millions of pounds in development.
The costs of preventing carbon dioxide from being released into the air are potentially enormous. Fossil fuels are still the main energy source worldwide and this is unlikely to change in the near future.
Nuclear power stations are capable of producing similar amounts of energy without carbon dioxide release,
but have received a bad press in the last decade. However, there are signs that this is changing. It is
difficult to see how a non-nuclear strategy can be maintained if governments are serious about carbon
dioxide reduction. There is no other major energy source which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by a serious amount.
THE COSTS OF NOT REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
A lot has been written about this, and it is not proposed to add to it here. Possibilities which have been aired are: global warming, flooding of London and other major cities, disappearance of ice caps, spreading of ticks and other disease-carrying insects across Europe as the planet warms up, growth of deserts, and so on. Some of these are alarmist; some are not. The truth is that no-one knows. Rational debate would be welcome but is in short supply. This isn't surprising since the Cabinet contains no scientists.
The developed world wants reliable electricity supplies, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and soon, the developing world will want it,too. It is likely that the growth in carbon dioxide emissions which we've seen over the last hundred years will be dwarfed by a much bigger rise in the next fifty years, as China, Eastern Europe and the East become major industrial powers. Their consumption of energy is likely to be much higher than ours, and they will have less regard for emissions and the environment. They will use the cheapest energy they can get.
In the West, we have to regard our energy policy, and the profitability of our industries, in the
light of what is happening overseas. We cannot negotiate away the profitability of our own companies
by shutting down old power stations and building replacements (wind farms and carbon capture) which supply electricity at several times the price.
It's no longer a question of whether we'll use nuclear power in the future; it's just a matter of how long it will be before there's no alternative.
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