Climate change and the case for nuclear power

Super talk last week in our college on the subject of climate change and the case for nuclear power in Ireland.

The seminar was given by Prof Peter Mitchell, who has led the radiation physics group at UCD for thirty years. Peter, an old professor of mine, started with a superb overview of the climate change threat, with plenty of nice graphs from the IPCC.

He then proceeded to argue the nuclear case, emphasisng the operating principle of the new pebble-bed reactors. It was an interesting talk, especially when he got in to the details of cost-benefit analysis.

I don’t think Peter is pro-nuke – it’s more he’s concerned at the way the Irish rule it out, without comparing costs. Certainly, his analysis of the future yield from wind energy was worrying.

Of course, there is always the thorny issue of nuclear waste – would you trust an Irish government to safeguard this carefully?

At question time, I asked Peter about the European situation (he is an expert member of EURATOM) – will future decisions be taken at EU level rather than at national level in future years? He said that idea had been around for a long while, but was a political hot potato. More on this next week….

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