It's the only stable, workable alternativeby Malcolm Grimston / September 18, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
A nuclear power plant is constructed in China’s Zhejiang province: of the 69 reactors currently under construction globally, 28 are in China. (© Diego Azubel/EP/Corbis)
The recent troubles in the Middle East, and also in west Africa, mean that oil is trading at its highest prices in six month, at around $115 a barrel. It reminds us that dependence on potentially unstable regions of the world for imports of energy resources may be unwise.
Nuclear, too, has not been free from troubles in recent years. At the stricken Fukushima plant in Japan, the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 was so devastating that it will be years, if not decades, before there can be any confidence that all major problems have been addressed.
But, perversely, the events at Fukushima have reminded the world of both the dangers and the attractions of nuclear energy. Despite the huge external stress to the 1970s reactors on the site, as yet there is no reliable evidence of deaths caused by radiation as a result of the accident, and there probably never will be. Many countries, with the exception of the rather special cases of Japan and Germany, continue to proclaim pro-nuclear policies, including those around the edges of the European Union (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and of course the UK) as well as those as diverse as Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan and Canada. In most countries where opinion polling has been carried out (including the UK) public attitudes seem to have been effectively unchanged by Fukushima.