Written on: 3. 11. 2011 in the category: news

Energy hypocrisy exposed by ignoring nuclear option

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RTE ‘News at One’ excitedly announced the other day that work had started on the new electricity interconnector between Ireland and Wales. This, carolled the RTE reporter with all the cretinous piety that characterises any discussion on the subject in Ireland, will enable us to export renewable energy to the rest of Europe! Which is rather like saying the Marshall Aid was a way of Ireland coming to the assistance of California, or Live Aid was all about Ethiopia rescuing Ballsbridge.

The energy-flow through the interconnector will be almost wholly one-way, with us importing energy 86pc of the time and exporting it only 3pc, with the system otherwise idle. So how it is possible that RTE News is trumpeting a fictional future in which the purpose of the connector is for us to export “renewable” energy to Britain? Because it’s true? No. Because it satisfies our almost insatiable need for a heart-warming, politically correct nationally binding myth.

By 2020, we should be capable of producing 6,000 megawatts of energy from wind. “Capable of” does not mean “will be”. On average, wind power actually produces just 22pc of its capacity. Our theoretical wind capacity is currently just 1,500 megawatts, but is actually producing an average yield of only 330 megawatts. On a cold day — classically, on a Wednesday in mid-January — we actually need about 5,000 megawatts. But cold weather usually occurs with high pressure zones, which also means no wind. Therefore, when we most need wind is when we don’t get it: so, extremely cold weather invariably requires fuel-based solutions. Moreover, when we’ve got wind, usually so has Britain, so the market there is sated: like farmers in Fingal in July trying to sell new King Edwards to their potato-producing neighbours.

And during those windless, savagely cold days, where will our imported electricity come from? Well, either from CO2-producing fossil-burning stations, or from the nuclear ones that generate 15pc of British electricity. So unless we have customs officers closely questioning the electrons about their origins as they shuffle patiently through the interconnector’s immigration department, nuclear-created energy will be entering the Irish grid.

Moreover, the interconnector will create an energy marketplace between Britain and Ireland — and because Britain is so much larger, the economics of scale mean that even when we don’t need much energy, we’ll be importing it because it’ll be cheaper than firing up a local power station, which would then just be idling. So what do I see here slipping into Ireland on a fine summer’s day? Why, some saucily cheap electricity from Britain’s nuclear power stations, and probably heading for Temple Bar.

However, let me repeat — albeit, with a weary, broken and palsied heart — that the RTE reporter was at least spot-on in one regard. He completely encapsulated the ideological piety of our media and political classes towards energy production, in which the term “renewable” has all the sacrosanct implications of the Blessed Eucharist in Old Ireland. Yet those in the actual energy-producing sector are never reduced to such quivering jelly by a mention of the r-word. Engineers and meteorologists know that energy has to be reliably produced 24 hours a day, which wind cannot do. Nonetheless, this Republic, this blessed plot, this holier-than-thou island, has made it illegal for civil servants even to examine the nuclear option. This is like a country threatened with air-attack outlawing electricity, and declaring that henceforth not merely will its radar be wind-powered, but it will also consist solely of wind-beams. However, if need be, it will also rely on its neighbour’s electronic radar for its defences.

The sheer disingenuousness of our energy “policies” will simply become gargantuan hypocrisy, similar in scale to the old EU Butter Mountain, once the proposed common EU electricity grid finally connects Ireland to France, where 75pc of the energy is nuclear-generated. Maybe winter sports can be hosted on the northern slopes of this Mount Humbug. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear protesters will meet in nuclear-lit and nuclear-warmed halls in Galway, to denounce the immorality of nuclear power, and to congratulate successive Irish governments on their principled anti-nuclear stances.

Moreover, just to put the whole “renewable” dogma into perspective: the €10bn being spent on wind turbines alone by 2020 will reduce our CO2 production from electricity generation by just 6pc. But electricity is the source of only one-third of our carbon dioxide production, so overall, our vast investment in wind power will reduce our overall CO2 production by just 2pc.

So if we seriously wanted to cut CO2 production, we’d already have embraced the nuclear option, which alongside wind would rapidly cut carbon emissions from electricity production to zero. But that would require an intellectual clarity that is beyond the powers of our “thinking” liberal classes (surely, the most sublime oxymoron known to man). For it seems that we want to stay virgins while having lots of unsafe sex. And when we wantons have risen from our fetid beds and our serial nuclear partners, we’ll give the world solemn lectures about the utter purity of wind power, and how virtuous we Irish are compared to everyone else. And then we’ll go home and shag the living daylights out of some very sexy French plutonium.

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