Rod Liddle: the nuclear option — why fusion is the key to unlimited energy

Source: Rod Liddle: the nuclear option — why fusion is the key to unlimited energy

Fusion has been and is likely to be 10 years away for the foreseeable future...

Liddle rather dramatises the scientific subject, but one can’t be picky with Murdoch’s press. Great enthusiasm for all things nuclear, one would think that only idiots would not trust it. It’s a wonderful technology, albeit a bit expensive, when you include the tenths of billions it takes to build a plant, then even more to dismantle it after its useful life. Usually the taxpayer is stuck with the decommissioning costs, as the companies manage to claim losses and melt away.

Also, there is this minor issue of what happens if anything does go wrong? Chernobyl and Fukushima barely got a mention but, if the obsessive compulsive Japanese screwed up so badly, what about the chances of lesser mortals? Can you see large swathes of English countryside condemned for decades, because of a pesky meltdown?

And with all this wonderful clean and cheap energy, Hinkley Point’s energy will cost nearly double the lousy renewable energy the author is so dismissive about. So dismissive that he doesn’t bother to mention that, once a renewable energy plant is built, the only costs are maintenance and distribution – the energy itself is free, for decades. As to the insurmountable problem of what to do when the wind is not blowing (rare event in the North Sea) or the sun not shining (as rare in Spain or the Sahara) the industry is getting ready to provide each household with a battery capable of storing enough energy to get through the night or even a few days, depending on your budget – and costs are going down as production ramps up. Utilities are investing in giant batteries, capable of filling in during peak hours, instead of building expensive and polluting power plants, as well as others to fill in during outages, like the plant Tesla is building in Australia.

While fusion has been and is likely to be 10 years away for the foreseeable future, small and giant batteries are being installed every day, ready to store excess power generated by renewable sources, to smooth and fill the hours during which no power is being generated due to lack of sun or wind – rarely both at the same time, BTW.

No mention of tidal power generation, which is not subject to clouds or calm days, which is an up and coming technology.

Rod Liddle makes a valiant attempt at extolling the virtues of nuclear power – both the fission and fusion types, with great verve and lots of technical terms and he does it in an entertaining manner. Pity that he doesn’t attempt at least to look at both the positive and negative aspects of the energy sources he discusses, when he doesn’t forget to mention them altogether, like biogas, tidal power, geothermal (which manages to provide most of the heat in Iceland), but is a good source even in countries with no active volcanoes, etc.

At least have to give credit to Liddle that he doesn’t even attempt to flog the dead horse of thermal energy sources like coal, oil or gas – a few steps ahead of Trump and his acolytes.

And yes, all research and universities will be impacted by Brexit, it goes without saying – at least Liddle doesn’t gloss over it.