Nuclear is no substitute for cheap oil and gas

What we're running out of very fast is cheap oil (currently $70 a barrel, up from around $25 in 2000. Steven Leeb, editor of The Complete Investor, believes it could go as high as $200.

Is more nuclear the solution? If only it were as simple as ploughing a few billion of public subsidy into more nuclear plants.

Unfortunately, I can't see how doing this alone is going to successfully sustain our current levels of comfort (and wastefulness).

Cheap oil and gas is on its way out for the UK and more nuclear isn't a neat plug for the gap.

Why isn't more nuclear enough?

Heating and hot water account for 60% of the average UK family's domestic energy use. This is the 'essential' part (the bit that keeps us healthy and keeps people warm in winter).

Once you've thrown your £100s billions at nuclear, this 60% remains a serious headache:

1) The central heating equipment we currently use in our UK homes works on gas or oil, not electric. A wholesale shift to electricity for heating would require millions of dwellings to be re-equipped with a new style of boiler and/or radiator system. Can everyone find £3000 - £5000 for this? If not, who will fund it?

2) When gas or oil gets too expensive (which for many OAPs it already is) many individuals and organisations will stop being able to function properly in winter.

3) If we switch, we find that electricity is a lot more expensive than gas (I'm paying around 9 pence per KWH during the day vs 2.65 pence per KWH for gas). That's 3 times more expense for the KWH equivalent.

4) Fear of debt will (and already does) stop older folk from heating their home adequately, which leads to bad health and pressures on families and health-care.

So, in short, there are more problems on the horizon than keeping electricity flowing.

Whilst we have oil to manufacture solutions, NOW is the time to put billions into the research and development of renewable technologies. Yet, this is unlikely to happen whilst huge sums are being invested in nuclear plants.

NOW is the time to work out how to exploit inexhaustible natural resources - you know, the type which can't be mined, drilled or pumped down a pipe.

NOW is the time to make peace with the people of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, rather than sending our military to protect our corporations whilst they drain each nation's potential for development from under the feet of ordinary people.

Ends | 4 Aug 2006 | The Leg

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Related Illustration:

Pie charts: % of energy produced by fuel type : Source

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