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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Magic petrol and the Nuclear option

It’s been a bit of a slow day today. Lots of foot miles covered without much to show for it all, but plenty of time for my thoughts ramble over a few things while I sheltered from the rain (Drought orders? What bloody drought? It’s 1976 all over again).

Sometimes you read the news behind the news with a ‘What’s all this about then?’ air of puzzlement. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has recently been lording it down in the Smoke with King Ken offering oil and petrol to us impoverished (Well I am) third world Britons. How is he going to do it? Hire Harry Potter to conjure up a few million barrels? The news from South of America is not so hot on the oil front. Delivery infrastructure is crumbling through lack of investment and the Venezuelans are buying oil from the Russians to meet their own contractual energy needs. So where’s all this magical fuel coming from eh? Surely not courtesy of old Vlad the Impaler? (Well, he could certainly shaft us in Europe by cutting off the Ukrainian gas supply, no problem).

No wonder there’s been a sudden new Labour volte face about Nuclear Power over the past twelve months or so. North Sea Oil and gas running out, Continuing war in the Gulf with no real promise of peace upping oil prices, the Chinese in a bidding war for as much black gold as they can get hold of for manufacturing and renewable energy sources don’t look like they can deliver without driving a truck through current environmental legislation.

Going back a decade or so, the public outcry against Nuclear Power was awesome. Nuclear (Fission) power was seen as anathema both before and after the Chernobyl disaster. Building and decommissioning old nuclear power stations is a horrendously complicated and hazardous process if you get it wrong, and merely bloody long winded and expensive if you get it right. Even if you take modern reactor technology into consideration. The base economic costs of nuclear fission fuel to energy look quite good until you check out how much it costs to build and demolish a Nuclear power plant.

On the other hand, if the guys down at Culham and CERN could finally crack the issues surrounding Nuclear Fusion, now that would be something to cheer about and start building Fusion power plants. Well, only ten years to 2016; provided the political will is there to build it. Whether it works or not is another matter. Oh yes, and if everything does go pear shaped, I hope you’ve already sold your cute little holiday villa near Aix-en-Provence.

If a bloke who's only a Parking Enforcer can work this out, wonder what the real brains can do?

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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