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Nuclear power the energy of the future.

THE Welsh Government has declared we have a "climate emergency". I hope they are not virtue-signalling and frightening young campaigners.

I also hope youngsters worried about anthropogenic climate change aspire to become scientists and engineers, because when we look at the facts and understand the hypotheses, starting of course with Einstein's theory that energy equals mass, we see that nuclear power is the safe, clean energy of the future.

The extent to which humankind uses and manipulates the energy around us sets us apart from other forms of life and we have progressively sought materials of high "energy density" to develop our civilisation. The energy density of oil is nearly double that of coal and three times that of wood. Windmills worked in pre-industrial times, but per-square-metre wind and solar deliver a tiny fraction of the energy available from coal, and frequently nothing at all.

Recently China has built huge wind and solar farms, but it continues to build coal plants, burning half the world's coal output. India and developing economies in Asia and Africa are also burning more coal.

The growth of coal power in these regions is overtaking reductions in wealthier countries.

Despite strong growth in renewables, fossil fuels provide 81% of global energy, a percentage unchanged in 30 years.

However, nuclear fuels have the highest energy densities. An inchlong fuel pellet delivers as much energy as a ton of coal, but like wind and solar, nuclear power contributes few CO2 emissions.

This has spurred China, the US and Canada to start building transformative 21st-century new nuclear power reactors using molten salt nuclear fuel technology. Scientists have collaborated internationally to bring forward technologies that make nuclear power explosion and meltdown proof. Small modular reactors can be mass produced, sited in small buildings, ships or planes and used without proliferation risks. They can burn stockpiled nuclear waste, reducing it to almost nothing, and the cost of energy will be on a par with gas. By 2040 this technology will be reducing poverty across the globe while bringing GHG emissions close to zero. That's a great future.

Mairede Thomas Menai Bridge, Anglesey

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 3, 2019
Words:352
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