Ireland’s Energy: We need to debate the nuclear option honestly

Fukushima nuclear power plant. The second-worst nuclear disaster in history killed no-one, while the tsunami that caused it killed more than 15,000 people. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/Reuters

There are pros and cons to nuclear energy, but the debate is often acrimonious and too often falls back to rhetoric instead of facts

The world’s traditional means of generating energy have been intensely polluting, expelling millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere with scant regard for the consequences. Ireland has been complicit in this: Moneypoint, the coal-powered station in Co Clare, releases 3.12 million tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere annually.

But as Moneypoint comes to the end of its operational life cycle, it is time to have a serious discussion about Ireland’s energy future, and nuclear power needs to be part of that discussion.

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The very mention of nuclear power sends people into a flutter

After Fukushima, nuclear power has become a bogeyman – but we shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.

Column: ‘The very mention of nuclear power sends people into a flutter’

The difficulties at Fukushima have dominated international news coverage, and sparked angry protests. 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster,  which puts ‘PR person for nuclear industry’ at the top of the ‘thankless jobs’ list for this year. Political figures worldwide have been quick to poor scorn on the bogeyman of nuclear power.  But is that fair or wise ? Hardly. Nuclear energy is the most efficient major source of energy. It is also the safest, with much less deaths than both conventional fuels and renewable technologies, and it massively reduces CO2 emissions. And if we’re serious about saving the environment, we cannot afford to dismiss nuclear power.

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