A REPORT by scientists proposing that Scotland should consider building an array of small nuclear power reactors to help combat climate warming has been dismissed as “disingenuous”. Three experts under the banner of the Nuclear Consulting Group think tank say that a new report from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) displayed a “disappointingly poor grasp of the realities of the nuclear issue”. They have been backed by campaigners, but the RSE has warned against ruling out energy technologies that may not meet “every possible criterion”. The nuclear power industry welcomed RSE’s report. The RSE report on ‘Scotland’s Energy Future’ was published on June 17, 2019, following a two-year inquiry. Its lead authors were Sir Muir Russell, who was head of the Scottish civil service and principal of the University of Glasgow, and Rebecca Lunn, an engineering professor at the University of Strathclyde. “Nuclear power has zero carbon emissions at point of generation and could play a major role in helping Scotland meet its climate targets,” the report concluded. It accepted that there were “well recognised challenges” with nuclear such as costs, decommissioning, and the disposal of radioactive waste. “Addressing these issues will require substantial investment over a prolonged period of time,” it said. But the RSE report suggested that “small modular reactors” (SMRs) could be a solution. They are reactors designed to be assembled from pre-made parts to generate under 300 megawatts of electricity, a quarter of that produced by current nuclear stations. “SMRs could provide many of the benefits of large-scale nuclear energy, but in a form that may prove more acceptable to the public,” the report said. “There is a high level of uncertainty over how long this technology will take to sufficiently develop.” The Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG) has now issued a sharp riposte to the RSE report. It has published a paper by three experts: Dr Paul Dorfman from University College London; Tom Burke from the climate think tank E3G; and Steve Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy from the University of Greenwich. They concluded that “Scotland’s energy future has no need for nuclear”. They criticised the RSE report for “conflicting” and “confusing” messages about nuclear power. The RSE report didn’t provide evidence to back up some of its claims, the NCG paper argued. The RSE failed “to note that all nuclear is significantly more carbon intensive than all renewables”. NCG maintained that renewables such as wind power were cheaper than new nuclear. It was particularly critical of the idea that SMRs could help Scotland achieve its climate targets.
The National 7th July 2019 read more »
The Ferret 7th July 2019 read more »