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March 13, 2010


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Vaster than the (already well-documented) environmental damage caused by the mining, transportation and burning of fossil fuels?

I agree with you on "biofuels" though; the only difference between a biofuel and a fossil fuel is a couple of million years in the dirt.

Jesse ventura

Well I can tell you that the environmental damage of so called renewables has been vast. The building of hydroelectric dams around the world has destroyed ecosystems and brought terrible droughts. The growing of 'bio fuels' has resulted in mass deforestation and raising food prices. Not a whiter than White record.


It would be interesting to compare the costs (both human and financial) of nuclear accidents worldwide with the the costs of accidents involving renewables.


HuwOS: 'Decomissioning costs are estimated from very high to infinity, all we actually know is that they will fall somewhere on or between those 2 points.'

This is the most important question. The results are permanent.

Paul Flynn

Yes I did, DG. It was a great con. The american company that landed the £12.5 billion contract said they would pull out if the taxpayers did not indemnify their insurance costs against the losses of a major accident. What you and I would call a vast subsidy.


Didn't Paul make the point a while ago that the government has to cover the insurance because no commercial insurance company would touch it with a barge pole?


"I never said that nuclear power was profitable. It is hugely expensive but, once running, reliable and low carbon..."
"they would see that I never claimed that nuclear was cheap" - Jesse

It is not just that nuclear is expensive, it is as we know fantastically expensive although constantly purported to be cheap and economical.
The issue with costs is they are massive and unknowable, due to when the bulk of the cost of nuclear falls.
Decomissioning costs are estimated from very high to infinity, all we actually know is that they will fall somewhere on or between those 2 points.
Incalculable costs are somewhat different from something being simply expensive and are a major problem.


Well, I think they're stunning. Maybe I'm odd. But I'm sure most would agree they're a heck of a lot prettier than a power plant, anyway.


"People love the idea of windmills until the government tries to build them near their towns or in beautiful landscapes."

That's just another example of our collective lemming mentality.

People screamed when smoking was banned (it kills them). People are fatter and unhealthier than ever (by lifestyle choice).

Wind power (with or without nuclear) has no-doubt got a valuable role to play in the future .

Trouble is the spoilt lemmings don't like to see a windmill as it obscures the view of the Dozens of telegraph poles , electricity pylons in the intensively farmed monocroped field.

I have a better view and more species diversity in my back garden than an average modern field.

Most of the objectors appear to be Rambler types in their Eighties so at least there is some cause for encouragement there.

Jesse Ventura

"Jane Davidson has been a great minister. History will judge his work kindly as a visionary politician."

Did you mean to say 'his' Paul? She has got big hands but that's a bit harsh. In what sense has she been a visionary politician? Her vision obviously didn't include redeveloping her own constituency.

People love the idea of windmills until the government tries to build them near their towns or in beautiful landscapes. They'll never be loved aesthetically like Brunel's viaducts because they are grey, mass produced, utilitarian tatt. They're not a viable alternative.


They already like them :)


We'd better start working on designs for a magnetic tree(?)house if we're going to win the fight to keep those monstrous fusion-cranes away from our majestic windfarms ;)

Kay Tie

"even if I did find then aesthetically unappealing"

People thought that the viaducts carrying steam trains were ugly, so perhaps in a hundred years people will like them. Then again, they'll probably be pulled down by then using fusion-powered cranes..


*If* nobody has died as a result of nuclear power in this country, it would seem to be more by luck than judgement


I'd rather look out at a field of windmills, even if I did find then aesthetically unappealing, than look out at a nuclear power facility and wonder if it was increasing my child's risk of cancer.


Paul Flynn

Jane Davidson has been a great minister. History will judge her work kindly as a visionary politician.

Jesse Ventura

I believe Paul is old. He writes with bitterness and old fashioned prejudice. If people had cared to read my earlier posts, they would see that I never claimed that nuclear was cheap or that wind was the only alternative. Wind is however, sucking up most of the funding going into renewables. Wasted money in my opinion. They are inefficient over their lifetime and are a blight on the landscape.

People seem to be missing the point that I'm not talking about Denmark or the US which both have vast empty spaces to build windmills. We have a small, crowded, power hungry island. As KayTie said, the reserve infrastructure for when the wind isn't blowing would still have to be in place too. Has that been factored into the costs?

Please, tell me Paul, how many people have died as a result from nuclear power in Britain? As 'peak oil' approaches, the price of all fossl fuels will rocket. We need to be properly prepared, not messing about with windmills. I suppose as the tides rise over London you could fashion a little coracle out of all your copies of the Guardian & Independent, but what about the rest of us??!

Now Jane Davidson has promised windmills etc, I can count on them not happening. I remember her saying she was going to redevelop my town (Pontypridd) and that never materialised. Funny, considering she's my AM and redevelopment minister.

Kay Tie

"In the fifties, the miracle of Zeta was announced. It would produce nuclear power 'too cheap to meter'. Promises, promise."

I would think that as a Labour MP you might be more careful about using the phrase "promises, promises".


It's interesting reading the view's of James lovelock. In the linked article he argues that to generate power for Six Billion inhabitants without making the world inhospitable to living species there is only one option.

We need a reality check. we can either continue to overpopulate, overconsume resources and pollute or decide at this late stage to live within our means.

Either way nature will sort it out for us!


Paul Flynn

I believe Jesse is young. He writes without memory. In 1968 the Flowers report said nuclear had been irresponsible by developing without a solution to the waste problem. Then the answer was to dig a hole and bury it. Now the answer is to dig a hole and bury it.

In the fifties, the miracle of Zeta was announced. It would produce nuclear power 'too cheap to meter'. Promises, promise.

Nuclear has never lived up to its hype. It is failing again in Finland with vast cost over-runs. Will the public fall again for the nuclear con?

Paul Flynn

A happy tale from Newport where our first giant windmills are busy generating,

ENVIRONMENT Minister Jane Davidson has today promised a low-carbon revolution and claimed Wales has the potential to produce nearly twice the amount of electricity it currently uses through wholly renewable sources by 2025

The new energy strategy is intended to give Wales a secure and resilient supply of power through marine, wind, water and biomass generation. It is also intended to boost opportunities for new jobs and skills.

Ms Davidson launched the policy at Newport-based chemical company Solutia, where two new wind turbines supply up to a third of energy needs.

She said: "The Energy Statement details how Wales has the potential to produce twice the amount of electricity it currently uses from renewable sources by 2025 – with about 40% coming from marine, a third from wind and the rest from sustainable bio-mass power or smaller projects using wind, solar, hydro or indigenous biomass.

"The potential is truly inspiring and I am confident that our low carbon revolution will provide the right framework to realise this potential. Wales once led the way in carbon-based energy.

"Our goal now is to do the same for low carbon energy. "

KayTie, 'No-one has ever suggeted reliance on 100% of any energy source.


Jesse it is surely an error to work on the basis that the only form of alternative energy is wind. You are of course right when you say it would not be sufficient on it's own but I don't believe anyone is saying it would be.

On the one side are fossil fuel technologies
on the other are all forms of alternative energy, wind, wave, solar, etc.

The issues with nuclear are that it is enormously and incalculably expensive, due to the majority of the costs being on the back end.
I fully agree that the risk of serious accident is very low,
but the problem people have is that the consequences of a serious accident are enormous and incredibly long term.
But perhaps most importantly, while our technological capabilities have grown and grown, our solution for what to do with nuclear waste is still the same as that of a child with a hated food, to hide it somewhere out of the way and hope it won't be noticed.


Worth noting that the CEO of Exelon, the largest nuclear operator in US, thinks wind is more economic than nuclear in the US environment. Or to be more precise, less uneconomic.

He recently told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that the CO2 pricing needed for economic deployment is:

"New wind generating capacity ranges from $45 to $80 per ton depending on the location. New nuclear generating capacity is $75 per ton. A new integrated gasification combined cycle plant with carbon capture and sequestration costs $160 per ton."


He is saying that as a US power generation technology consumer windmills are cheaper than nucs (at current penetration levels).

Also worth noting that $75/ton CO2 pricing needed for economic deployment of new nuclear power is rather more than the £30-ish floor CO2 price some in the UK are talking about to make new nuclear power economic.

So if the CO2 price is pitched for new nucs to be economic against gas generation, wind generation should be even more profitable if this US CEO is right and the economics are roughly the same over here, given a fair playing field.

Kay Tie

"Windmills work for 80% of the time."

Yes, but they all tend to stop at the same time. The country needs the reserve infrastructure for 100% generation by gas and coal for when the wind isn't blowing. And only gas is really fast enough to take up the load. Of course, we could use a Eurogrid for the reserve, but that just means French nuclear will be supplying us.

Windmills save fossil fuel. But they cost double on infrastructure: once for the windmills and once for the spinning reserve. That's expensive.

Jesse Ventura

I never said that nuclear power was profitable. It is hugely expensive but, once running, reliable and low carbon... If you did some research into wind power you'd see that it is both far more inefficient than is widely believed and unreliable. That is to say nothing of the vast swathes of our landscape that it would ruin.

The more nuclear infrastructure is built around the world, the lower the cost will be through economies of scale and the more efficient it will become.

Paul Flynn

Jesse you have been deceived.

Windmills work for 80% of the time. Nuclear power stations also work at best for 80% of the time- that after they are delivered years late and vastly over budget. Nuclear power has NEVER made a profit and never will.

Cleaning up OLD nuclear in the UK will cost at least £93billion. Yes that is 'billion.'

Jesse Ventura

How many people have been killed by nuclear power in this country? 250 men died mining coal just in the pit shaft that my high school was built on.

Franch generates 80% of it's energy through nuclear without any problems. In fact they've ended up dominating the market because the French authorities weren't so scared by people's ignorance or waves of NIMBYism.

Kay Tie

"How many times have we heard "It should never have happened" or "Procedures weren't followed" long after serious damage has been done?"

You left out "lessons will be learned" and "we have put in procedures to make sure this never happens again".


"Especially in the West, where a plant like Chernoble would never be allowed to run."

*Should* never be allowed to run, maybe... I don't believe for a second that it *would* never be allowed to run

How many times have we heard "It should never have happened" or "Procedures weren't followed" long after serious damage has been done?

Jesse Ventura

We have vast amounts of money going into wind power in this country. Denmark have 5.5 million people and twice our per capita GDP. They have the space and the money to build the windmills they need. What happens on a windless day? You always need a reliable backup supply of energy ie, Nuclear, fossil fuels, tidal, etc. Wind is not viable for the UK unless we literally covered the whole of Wales in windmills.

At current prices, it is economical to mine uranium for the next 50 years. This figure increases ten fold as the price increases. Ultimately, as plants become dramatically more efficient, Uranium will become essentially infinite.


People seem to forget, or conveniently overlook, the fact that uranium ore , like coal and oil is a limited resource.
To state that nuclear or coal are the only sensible options of power generation is perhaps the opinion of the lobbyists and certain corporate investors, but surely to invest in a global grid based on fossil fuels is going to be an extremely finite option, with immense short-term financial profits for the minority, long-term costs for the public, and one that should be discarded without fail.
Cutting back on the use of power would be a better step......and maybe a closer look at renewables, the Danes seem to be coping quite well with their wind, are British engineers averse to emulation...

Jesse Ventura

The plants that would have been built here in the 80's were incredibly secure. The Finnish station has incorporated a lot of new designs apart from the safety measures. The Finnish government and environmental authorities got involved more heavily in the project mid stream and demanded investigations which drove up spending massively.

Governments have become as paranoid as CND members about nuclear power. The dangers have been hugely exhaggerated. Especially in the West, where a plant like Chernoble would never be allowed to run.

As for the costs, I agree that it is hugely expensive to decommission plants, but what's the alternative? Wind, solar, tidal, etc are insignificant at the moment and will never supply enough energy for this country. So, you're left with coal, oil or gas stations or nuclear. If we're going to cut CO2 then it has to be nuclear.


"The Finnish Station is a completely new design with incredibly tight safety measures so obviously it is over spending" - Jesse

You're saying it is over the budget drawn up on the basis of incredibly tight safety measures because of the incredibly tight safety measures?
Or are you saying that if they were not implementing tight safety measures it would easily have come in on the projected budget, just less safely?

"If we had started building nuclear plants in the 80's then we wouldn't be in the mess that we are."
Again, what are you saying?
Is it that if we had only built them before coming up with better safety measures we wouldn't have to worry about building them safely now.

All of that is apart from the simple fact that while the new Finnish nuclear power station is over budget on building, the cost of nuclear is still mostly on the decommissioning costs which are simply incalculable.
Just because the majority costs are in the future doesn't make them any less part of the cost of nuclear.

Jesse Ventura

So, are you still opposed to Nuclear Power. The Finnish Station is a completely new design with incredibly tight safety measures so obviously it is over spending. If it had come in on budget would you have been happy with it? Afterall, you said yourself that an accidental meltdown is very unlikely.

If we had started building nuclear plants in the 80's then we wouldn't be in the mess that we are. It was people's arrational fear that stopped them. Please tell me you're not taken in by the windmill swindle? The only real options are clean coal or nuclear.

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