There are alternatives!

Renewables and energy saving can deliver more carbon savings than nuclear

Neil Crumpton, until recently Friends of the Earth’s anti-nuclear campaigner/energy spec­ialist, has produced a “carbon-negative” non-nuclear UK 2050 energy scenario. The proposed infrastructure would have the potential to go beyond low-car­bon energy technologies should climate protection policies re­quire it. Neil will soon be em­ployed by the Bellona Founda­tion to set up a Bellona UK to progress such far-reaching energy and climate solutions.

The route map aims to paint the picture of the likely scale of low-carbon energy generating and transmission infrastructure needed to build a resilient, demand-responsive UK energy system.

Renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS), heat pumps, ur­ban heat grids, and heat storage, and possibly suburban hydrogen networks fed by coal gasifiers, would be progressively deploy­ed during the four decades of transition.

Offshore windfarms occupying some 20,000 square kilometers, and other marine renewables would supply over half the esti­mated 2050 energy demand. The energy produced offshore would be several times greater than even two large nuclear power programmes that New Labour is proposing.

CCS-fitted Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants would supply industrial clusters and district- to city-wide heat grids. The heat grids would facilitate the building of large scale heat storage, large heat pump sche­mes and solar thermal arrays ,and potentially inter-seasonal heat storage underground. As variable renewable capacity sca­les up, fast-response aero-deriva­tive turbines and fuel cells would provide power and heat back-up when renewable output was low.

Supergrid electricity links to mainland Europe and to Saharan solar and wind schemes (Deser­tec Industrial Initiative) would also help ensure renewable energy met the UK's varying daily and seasonal demands. The CCS-fitted CHP infra­struc­ture could be fueled by bio-al­gae oil or even “solar” ethanol (synthesised from CO2 extracted from desert air) to provide a carbon-negative power output to further reduce dangerous atmos­pheric CO2 levels.

Such a renewable, load-follo­wing, carbon-negative infra­structure is way beyond nuclear power’s limited, lowish carbon, inflexible baseload and offers a far safer, more peaceful and sustainable future for humans and all biodiversity on Earth.