Plentiful energy is essential to a thriving society. But there are only three types of primary energy source widely available on Earth today: renewables, fossil fuels, and nuclear. The contrast between the three is evident from the weight of fuel—energised material—sufficient for one person to cover food, heating, transport, and other needs throughout their life.
The simple quantitative description of chemical energy as waves hidden in matter is 100 years old. The record of 70 years confirms that the nuclear power is safer than burning fossil fuels, but unwarranted caution has inflated its costs and denied society its benefits – this is not sustainable.
This document is a summary of my conversations and observations, plus announcements and news events associated with COP 28, which took place from November 30th to December 12th 2023 in the Emirate of Dubai. I was sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, so there is a nuclear focus to this report.
A letter from John J Cardarelli II of the Health Physics Society to various leaders in Washington DC, requesting an investigation to ensure that the latest science is incorporated into the radiation protection standards for low-dose environments. (Effectively, an investigation of the LNT [Linear No Threshold] model applied to radiation protection.)
Winning entries in the essay competitions held to mark SONE's 25th anniversary of its foundation on 1 June 1998. Both prizes, for those up to 38 and up to 18, attracted strong fields. Entries showed evidence of significant reading and productive imagination. All were reviewed and discussed by a small committee of SONE who were unanimous in selecting the two winners.
An essay on ‘Energy Resources and Our Future’ by Admiral Hyman G Rickover in 1957. This is not a submission for our essay competition today because it was written more than 66 years ago. It contains many misunderstandings, but many more truths that have since been ignored and now deserve to be re-embraced. We may hope that the SONE Jubilee Competition will succeed in encouraging young people today to entertain a suitably modernised version of such a vision of the future – and then, like Rickover, follow their vision through.
Notes for a talk at the Reform Club, London, on 21 June 2023: Ensure that people have access to a plentiful supply of energy that is affordable, safe, secure, and reliable and which does not contribute to our carbon emissions, then there will be no need to feel guilty about not denying ourselves the benefits of energy. And no need to cheat on any environmental commitments. The only energy source that meets all of these requirements is electricity generated from nuclear energy.
Of all the options, only electricity generated from nuclear energy ticks all the boxes against the required criteria. It is safe, clean, secure and reliable; managed properly it is one of the cheapest forms of electricity available to us. It emits almost zero carbon.
Since life began on Earth there have been four energy revolutions. Now we stand at the threshold of the fifth. This should maintain the environment, follow the laws of natural science, and support the socio-economic needs of society. Only nuclear energy can match these, but a new spirit of informed public engagement is needed to replace seventy years of irrational aversion.
It is proving difficult to persuade the public to replace their efficient and convenient gas boilers because generally, heat pumps will not have equivalent thermal performance. This is a blessing in disguise, because providing the electrical energy for the new equipment will be a massive challenge.
To stimulate the imagination of the current generation, unfettered by the mistakes of their elders, Supporters Of Nuclear Energy (SONE) is offering two prizes, each of £1000, to mark the 25th anniversary of its foundation on 1 June 1998.
The plan to cut the combustion of fossil fuels was accepted at the 2015 Paris Conference. The instinctive reaction around the world has been to revert to “Renewables”, the sources of energy replenished intermittently by the power of the Sun. Unfortunately this power, attenuated by the huge distance that it must travel to reach the Earth, is extremely weak.
There has been relentless pressure over the last 25 years to reduce UK CO₂ emissions. Carbon emissions in the electricity sector were reduced until 2020, but have started to rise again. There is very little scope for reducing the sector emissions further, since renewables require secure back up from either gas or coal-fired generation. Can hydrogen storage help?
A presentation by Candida Whitmill of Penultimate Power UK Ltd, given at SONE's 2022 Annual General Meeting. It describes the use of EnergiHabu™ High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors for industrial heating applications.
Though an ideal energy source, nuclear made an unfortunate entry into world affairs. The inhibition that surrounds it obstructs the optimum solution to real dangers today – climate change, the supply of water, food and energy, and socio-economic stability.
To face the changing climate the world must forgo the medium- and long-term use of fossil fuels and stop deluding itself that renewables controlled by the vagaries of the weather can be a reliable replacement. We have long neglected the provision of the science education that would ensure that everybody trusts the workings of the natural world around them.
Finding sufficient energy is essential to all life. Humans have excelled at this, notably when they studied and overcame their innate fear of fire some 600,000 years ago. (First published in “The New Statesman”.)
Wind power as a source of electricity generation is widely seen as freely available. However, its weakness and unreliability are ill matched to the demands of modern society. (From a LinkedIn article.)
Nuclear waste is nasty, but in nearly 70 years of operating nuclear power stations nobody has lost their life from coping with nuclear waste. Treated sensibly it is safe. The waste is a product of the fuel and, because the fuel is so energy-rich, the quantity is minute.
In times of war misinformation can be dangerous and the subject deserves a wider discussion. It is a long time since the world received serious threats that included the words “nuclear” and “radiation”. How much weight should we attach to them?
As the world discusses sources of energy it is spooked by an eighty-year-old fear of ionising radiation and all forms of nuclear energy. But evidence from simple observation shows that this fear is simply misplaced and that everybody should be confident in making a future with nuclear power.
An exploration of the possible replacements for fossil fuels, their science and history. Evidently only nuclear energy can provide the energy required. Despite its exceptional safety this still carries a legacy of historical misunderstandings. These can be overcome through general re-education for the sake of future generations.
The nations of the world plan to stop burning carbon fuels, but have not fixed on the replacement. For social and economic confidence, they need to share a proper picture of the options. The world should look forwards to a heavy dependence on nuclear energy with a confidence, informed by natural science.
The most effective source of carbon-free energy available on a large scale is nuclear and this would be accepted but for the general view that it is particularly dangerous. The scientific evidence does not support this long-held apprehension, but makes plain the need for a root-and-branch cultural change in attitudes to nuclear technology.