UK scientists say ‘Solar, not nuclear’

Thank whatever deities you choose to believe in that someone in this country talks sense, even if it’s not the politicians. Researchers from Imperial College in London have announced that they believe the UK, by working on photovoltaic technologies, could produce an equal or greater output of electricity than currently comes from nuclear power *in less time than it would take to build another nuclear reactor*. From the article:

The UK currently generates 12 gigawatts of electricity from nuclear power stations, around one sixth of the country’s total electricity output. This is the same amount of electricity that it is predicted Germany will generate through photovoltaics by 2012 if it continues to expand its solar energy programme at its present rate.

The researchers write that the UK, which has a similar sunshine profile to Germany, could produce 12 gigawatts of solar electricity by 2023 if production is expanded by 40% per year, less than the world increase of 57% in 2004.

However, in contrast to other developed countries, the UK has recently halted its programme of solar panel installation on 3,500 rooftops halfway through. This compares to the completed installation of 70,000 installations in Japan and 100,000 in Germany.

Surprise, surprise. The UK establishment (government AND scientific) is very fond of nuclear power, which is why it is leaning that way for future energy generation. Why are we pouring lots of research money into technologies like fusion (which, granted, I would love to see get off the ground), when there is already a tried, tested and easy-to-manufacture solution to our impending energy crisis just waiting to be used? Call me a hippy (you won’t be the first), but it strikes me as a little bit arse-about-face.

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