Monday, 30 May 2011

Goodbye nuclear, hello green energy

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German nuclear plant
In Germany, arguments are raging over the decision to close down all nuclear plants by 2022 following the tragic and avoidable meltdown of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Germany's Angela Merkel although pressed hard by electoral gains by the Greens, has still taken a brave decision. However, it will also cast a long shadow over the landscape as the solution seems to be to build 'mega masts' to move energy from the North's wind turbines to the South via power lines in the sky. 
Chancellor Merkel on flight over Baltic 1 wind farm, 2 May 11
Chancellor's Angel Merkel takes a brave step towards a non-nuclear future
Traversing the beautiful forests of Rennsteig, the high voltage cables on large pylons, will scar an idyllic piece of the countryside to provide the 'Energie Autobahn' that cities such as Munich and Stuttgart will need. This is a quick and lazy solution to the problem.  If the Government was willing, it could bury the lines or find other solutions to developing alternative energy sources for the South of Germany. 
Green demonstration in Schalkau, Germany
Local residents opposing the proposed pylons
The risks from nuclear energy and all the waste that accompanies it are well known but after a hiatus of the past ten years when nuclear energy seemed to grow in respectability, Fukushima blew away the veil of naivety to reveal a form of science that repeatedly causes  deadly consequences. Nuclear has received bad press over the years from a suspicious public and media seizing on any doomsday news to exploit fears and worries over its safety. By ignoring the massive waste problem and tinkering with the figures, the argument was that nuclear was cheap, safe and carbon neutral. 
Nuclear power stations operational around the world. Click image for full graphic. GRAPHIC NEWS
The belt of nuclear reactors around the earth's middle
But Fukushima once and for all ended the 'rational', 'green' argument that nuclear was needed in a world with self inflicted climate change. 
In this combination of photos, the Number one reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, is seen before, left, and after an explosion that blew out the walls of the unit, in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. The photo at left was taken in October 2008, and the photo at right was released by the Tokyo Power Electric Co on 12 March, following the explosion (AP Photo/Kyodo News and Tokyo Power Electric Company)
Before and after the explosion at Fukushima
Japanese Self Defense Forces wearing anti-radiation gear search for evacuees in...
The explosion destroyed the hull of the building containing the reactor, the...
The world should detach itself from the reliance of nuclear energy and massively invest in sustainable energy sources; wind, solar and water power. For too long countries have given muted support to alternatives and failed to turn them into mainstream. This is not an easy solution and arguments rage over whether alternatives energy sources can meet the demand, especially with the massive increases in energy demand from developing nations such as China and India, but a way has to be found. No one ever said finding enough energy for the human race was an easy science, but the sooner we seriously start, the better. Germany has taken the first steps and the rest of the world should follow. Organisations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) are blazing the trail to find 100% sustainable energy solutions.

1 comment:

  1. I think her target of getting rid of nuclear power stations by 2022 is an ambitious target, I fail to see how we could find something as C02 neutral as nuclear power stations by this point!
    I think Germany will probably go back on this plan because they made a plan of getting rid of all their power stations by a certain date before but that plan was eventually dismissed!
    By the way, I'm also a Marsden, so it's nice to get in contact with other people with the same name!

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