This briefing note is one in a series prepared by Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE), in consultation with scientists and engineers, to bring some facts and perspective to energy-related issues that are being freely discussed by the public.
One of these is the Government’s aim drastically to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to combat global warming. Under pressure from “Greens”, it has just committed itself to reducing British emissions by 80 per cent of the 1990 level by 2050, apparently without considering the implications.
How could such a massive reduction be achieved? Is the technology available to secure the political objective? Could it conceivably be implemented even within what may seem to be a reasonably generous timescale? And what effect would an 80% reduction have on the current British lifestyle?
This briefing note seeks to answer these questions to make for a more rational debate about CO2 reduction.
In reading it, two things need to be borne in mind:
It is not possible to store electricity in bulk so supply has continuously to be matched with demand; this means that managers of the National Grid, or any distribution system, require predictable and controllable power.
Any scheme to reduce CO2 emissions has to have regard to its economics. There is no point in Britain rendering itself uncompetitive in reducing CO2 emissions, especially when we emit only two per cent of the world’s total, if our competitors fail to address a global problem.