Nuclear option not best for energy transition away from Russian fuels | Letters
OK, Russian gas is bad – but George Monbiot’s attack on Germany, Europe’s largest economy, seems deeply misplaced (it’s not too late to break free from that silly gas addiction Russian, March 9). The German energy transition consists of replacing conventional power plants, both fissile and fossil fuels, with renewable energies. Looking at short- and medium-term energy scenarios, Germany decided that the costs and risks of staying nuclear outweighed the limited benefits. Meanwhile, around the world, renewables are growing exponentially and nuclear is declining.
Global renewable electricity capacity is expected to increase by more than 60% between 2020 and 2026, to over 4,800 GW. This is equivalent to the current global energy capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. And here’s the killer: Russia produces about 35% of the world’s enriched uranium for nuclear reactors, and EU uranium imports from Russia equal Niger’s at 2,545 tonnes. The Fukushima disaster made Monbiot pro-nuclear and now the military attack on nuclear power in Ukraine makes him even more so. Good luck with that.
Dr. Paul Dorfmann
Research Associate, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex
What the hell does George Monbiot mean when he calls small modular reactors “softer nuclear technologies”? SMRs are always vulnerable to accidents and attacks (think of what happened in Ukraine); they produce even more nuclear waste per unit of electricity than conventional reactors; and there is still no safe long-term solution for radioactive waste. Moreover, these reactors will remain dependent on uranium for fuel – when we know that uranium mining has caused suffering and death to mainly indigenous populations around the world.
Littleborough, Greater Manchester
George Monbiot makes a compelling case for “the global energy transition that should have happened years ago”. He concludes by asking “So what are we waiting for?” We are waiting for another complete transition – from our enslavement to the mysterious deity called “the market”, which should also have happened years ago.
Michael Gove backs new commission to explore tidal power (Severn Estuary tidal power plan back on agenda amid Ukraine crisis, March 8), reveals government beset by ‘incompetence. There is already a ‘kiln-ready’ Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, fully costed and with planning approval. The government failed to support it in 2018.
West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire
Regarding Larry Elliott’s analysis (West also feels impact of sanctions on Russia as oil and gas prices soar, March 7), we could reduce oil consumption, limit our dependence on vis-à-vis supplies from Russia and deny income to Putin if we reduce speed limits on the roads.
When the speed of a gasoline-powered car is reduced from 70 mph to its optimum speed of 55 mph to 60 mph, its gas mileage drops by 17%. Given that the demand for road transport fuels in the UK is approximately 44 million liters of petrol and 81 million liters of diesel per day, this reduces petrol consumption by 7.5 million liters and diesel of 13.8 million liters per day. If the NATO allies agreed on such a strategy, they could inflict a considerable reduction in financial support for Putin’s war.
Regarding your report (Joe Biden bans Russian oil imports in powerful blow to Putin’s war machine, March 8), imagine if the United States had not withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the name of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018. Today, there would be no discussion of oil prices rising to such high levels. Prior to the withdrawal, Iran was producing 2-2.5 million barrels per day, with the potential to reach 3.5-4 million. A return to the JCPOA and the return of Iranian oil to world markets is vital to a successful crushing of the Russian economy.
Fariborz S Fatemi
McLean, Virginia, USA