Who Is BENE?

BENE seeks a Better Environment with Nuclear Energy.

Our primary objectives are to bring balance to the Irish energy debate where nuclear power is concerned and to have nuclear power considered as a possible energy source here.

Our core group members are listed below. We are entirely voluntary and are not aligned to any political party or enterprise of any sort.

We also have a large amount of support from all sectors of Irish society. While some have a technical background and others are academic, we truly welcome support from all members of the public who agree that nuclear power should be considered here. Please become a supporter – it is free and is open to all.

BENE core group members

…..in alphabetical order:

Denis Duff is a Chartered Engineer with wide experience of a variety of electricity generating systems, including wind turbines and generators powered by fossil fuels (oil, gas and solid fuel). He now works independently in the energy sector both at home and abroad.

David Robert Grimes is a scientist with a keen interest in the public understanding of science. He writes on science and society for various outlets, discusses and debates topics as diverse as vaccination and climate-change on news media, and gives talks across the world on the importance of evidence in society. Joint winner of the 2014 Nature / Sense About Science Maddox Prize for standing up for Science, David keeps an Ockham award-nominated science and medicine blog at www.davidrobertgrimes.com

Ian McAulay has a background in health physics and has been extensively involved in measurements of radioactivity in the environment and in radiation protection. He was heavily involved in the nuclear debate thirty years ago and at that time was one of the Irish scientists trying to correct imbalances in the media coverage.

Jim Morrissey is a former research technician with experience in both nuclear and hydrogen laboratories. He worked in high temperature and high pressure materials testing where he shares a patent on Hydrogen storage systems. He has extensive experience in data acquisition and measurement techniques. His final five years in research was in a nuclear medical project. He is a graduate of the MII and has experience of management in Ireland’s manufacturing sector.

Tom O’Flaherty, a Chartered Engineer, is the former Chief Executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (formerly the Institution of Electrical Engineers).  In his earlier career he worked on wind energy, energy conservation, heat pumps, and oil and gas exploration.  While with An Foras Taluntais (now Teagasc) in the 1980s he had responsibility for Ireland’s first EU-funded Demonstration Project on wind energy.

Frank Turvey is the former Assistant Chief Executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and, on retirement, was a member of its Board. He is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the Institute of Nuclear Engineers. Frank’s involvement with Irish nuclear energy goes back to the original proposal for a nuclear power plant to be built at Carnsore Point, Co Wexford.

Philip Walton received his degrees in physics from Trinity College Dublin. He then worked in the Department of Clinical Physics and Bioengineering (WRHB, Glasgow, Scotland). In 1968 he joined the Medical College of Virginia, USA, where he was Chairman of the Radiation Physics Division. In 1978 he became Professor of Applied Physics at NUI, Galway. He retired in 2005 and is now Emeritus Professor. He served for seven years on the Board of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. He has served as Radiological Protection Officer both at MCV and NUI, Galway.

6 thoughts on “Who Is BENE?”

    1. At this stage, we’re in favour of any safe, licensed design that is affordable. This includes molten salt reactors, of course.

      We think the first modern small reactor to be licensed will be the NuScale 60MWe module, so that is prominent in our thinking, but we keep a keen eye on other designs as they progress through licensing.

  1. You say that nuclear is for reducing the carbon footprint of ireland, the amount of fossil fuel used to dig up and process and then reprocess is hugh, how do you factor in this. Yes do understand the newer fast breader reactors do consume some of waste they generate but still produces nuclear waste that would have to be stored someplace, replacement parts etc etc. in reactor to then decommissioning the reactor at end of life, where is the storage facility going to be ?
    We are better off investing in cleaner technology, ireland on some windy days is 60+% powered from renewal sources.. saying that wind turbines are an eye sore or noisy etc, doesn’t help.
    We need to become energy harvesters, not dependant on other countries for our energy needs.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Nils.

      Note that nuclear energy is not generated in Ireland yet as it is not permitted by law. However Ireland plans to increase the amount of nuclear energy we use that is generated in Britain and especially from France over the coming decade.

      Note also that all power generation technologies need mined materials. Using nuclear to generate electricity requires less mined materials than wind or solar energy even when the nuclear fuel is accounted for – this is major advantage of using nuclear energy for power.

      All power generation technologies generate waste also. Nuclear is unique in that the toxic waste generated becomes less toxic over time – this is not true of the toxic waste from any other technology, which never decays.

      Ireland already produces nuclear waste from many different processes and has not developed the storage facility that is needed for such waste. This waste could be stored along with spent fuel at a nuclear power station site if that was deemed acceptable. Nuclear power generation is unique in that it has always safely managed its entire inventory of nuclear waste and is the standard that other power generation technologies should try to emulate.

      Having over 60% renewable electricity on windy days is not enough. We need to have 100% clean energy in all weathers, and nuclear energy can be the backbone of a system that allows renewables to supply a great deal of our clean energy reliably and affordably.

      We will always have a mutual dependence on other countries for energy and other needs. This applies to renewables too, where we import the vast majority of equipment needed to develop wind farms, solar parks, battery storage, transmission cables and so on. We also use interconnectors to supply some of our electricity.

      However, please let me know if you are aware of a power generation technology that uses less materials and land than nuclear per unit of electricity produced, that doesn’t produce toxic waste, can supply 100% of our clean energy demands in all weathers at affordable prices, and does not depend on other countries in any way. I would give my full support to such technology.

      1. “However Ireland plans to increase the amount of nuclear energy we use that is generated in Britain and especially from France over the coming decade.”
        We have I think currently 3 interconnects between uk and europe, which not only allows us to import energy but to export it.. we actually are a next exporter of energy.
        https://www.seai.ie/data-and-insights/seai-statistics/key-statistics/electricity/#:~:text=Electricity%20can%20be%20imported%20or,for%20electricity%20generation%20in%20Ireland.

        I will have to point you to this wikipedia article on cost of nuclear power.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_nuclear_power_plants
        The cost per megawatt is way greater than wind or solar.
        For instance :
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_C_nuclear_power_station
        The cost of building this is between 21 and 22 billion, this is a huge power plant but how much does it cost for same in wind and solar and other renewal ?
        And on the subject of waste and toxic waste.
        In terms of storing energy:
        https://www.siliconrepublic.com/companies/electroroute-energy-storage-sites-offaly
        This is the start of capturing excess energy from wind and using it in less windy time.

        “All power generation technologies generate waste also. Nuclear is unique in that the toxic waste generated becomes less toxic over time”
        It really depends on what you call less toxic over time ?
        Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years ( half it’s original)
        Uranium 234 is a 246000 years.

        The list goes on, we don’t have any good ways to store these things long term millions of years.
        In terms of toxic waste a wind turbines produces no radiation and can for the most part be completely recycled.
        Also I think your opinion on the use of less land is not correct, there is nothing to stop a wind farm being used for a secondary purpose. I also think that wind farms are generally not put on prime farming land.
        “Having over 60% renewable electricity on windy days is not enough. We need to have 100% clean energy”
        You say clean energy but nuclear isn’t clean. I’d really like you to back up your statemt here.

        1. Thanks for the new comment, Nils.
          I’ll provide answers where I can, with your comments in “quotes”.
          You said “We have I think currently 3 interconnects between uk and europe”.
          Response: No, we only have 1 500 MW interconnector to Wales and none to mainland Europe. We are connected to N Ireland who have a connection to Scotland also. The plan is to increase interconnection to 700 MW by 2030.

          “which not only allows us to import energy but to export it.. we actually are a next exporter of energy.”
          Response: Yes. We will increase the amounts of energy imported and exported over the coming decade.

          “I will have to point you to this wikipedia article on cost of nuclear power.
          The cost per megawatt is way greater than wind or solar.
          The cost of building this is between 21 and 22 billion, this is a huge power plant but how much does it cost for same in wind and solar and other renewal?”
          Response: Thank you for these references. Our study shows that using small modular reactors to decarbonise after 2030 is much cheaper and more effective than by simply extending the plan that will get us to 7- Renewable electricity by 2030. Study by MaREI and ESRI appears to corroborate our findings.

          “And on the subject of waste and toxic waste.
          In terms of storing energy:
          This is the start of capturing excess energy from wind and using it in less windy time.”
          Response: Yes, the national plan is to increase battery storage to at least 1700 MW by 2030.

          “It really depends on what you call less toxic over time ?
          Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years ( half it’s original)
          Uranium 234 is a 246000 years.
          The list goes on, we don’t have any good ways to store these things long term millions of years.”
          Response: Take 2 sets of toxic waste – 1 is radioactive while the other is not. As time progresses, the radioactive waste becomes less less radioactive while the toxicity of the non-radioactive waste remains constant and does not decay with time. After around 600 years, the total radioactivity of used fuel fall to the level of the original ore from which the fuel is made.

          “In terms of toxic waste a wind turbines produces no radiation and can for the most part be completely recycled.”
          Response: Wind turbines produce no radiation but they do contain toxic materials. Most wind turbines and solar panels are not recycled to date but work is starting to correct this to some extent.

          “Also I think your opinion on the use of less land is not correct, there is nothing to stop a wind farm being used for a secondary purpose. I also think that wind farms are generally not put on prime farming land.”
          Response: There are examples of very good and very bad practice concerning siting of wind turbines and solar panels. Any land use is going to be excessive compared to replacing existing fossil fuel stations with small scale nuclear power plants that would use additional land and require the minimum of additional transmission infrastructure.

          “You say clean energy but nuclear isn’t clean. I’d really like you to back up your statemt here.”
          Response: There are many reputable studies including from the IPCC and International Energy Agency that confirm that emissions from nuclear energy is as low as that from onshore wind and lower than from solar farms.

          Our website contains lots of information to answer any further queries but please let me know if there is anything significant that remains unanswered.

          The bottom line is that the drive to reduce emissions as quickly and as affordably as possible is much more likely to be achieved when we use all the low emissions tools at our disposal, and that includes an optimum mix of wind, solar, nuclear, carbon capture and storage, energy storage and interconnection.

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