Green energy and nuclear power

Green technologies have important limitations and cannot as yet provide a complete solution

Sir, – A letter writer offers two counterarguments in his response to my criticism of his objection to pursuing nuclear power (Letters, September 26th).

He makes the point that we do have green energy. To clarify, when I said green energy needed to be developed, I did not mean these technologies needed to be invented, but that these technologies cannot, at present, meet global energy needs. That is not to say green technologies aren’t impressive or needed. They are. But they have important limitations and cannot as yet provide a complete solution.

He appears to have misunderstood me as saying he was against nuclear power. The point I was trying to make was a different one, which was to criticise the view, which he repeats, that the technology should not be pursued because of the long lead time.

Climate change is upon us, and I agree we need to act. Continuing our over-reliance on fossil fuels year on year could be disastrous. But acting now will not bring anything like immediate success. A demand for quick solutions ignores the scale of the challenge. We may find ourselves working on climate change related problems for many decades to come.


Nuclear power stations may take 20 years to build. Developing sustainable technologies to the point where they meet all our energy needs may take much longer. New technologies such as cold fusion might seem around the corner, but the first such power station could easily be a century away.

We need to recognise that we are in this for the long haul, and over this period of time we will need to keep several options going. How the technology mix is best deployed both here and abroad is a complex question, but the likelihood is that nuclear power will continue to be needed for some time, and more stations may have to be built in Europe.

And that’s just one part of the environmental problem. Finding sustainable ways for people to live and thrive, while at the same time restoring badly needed biodiversity, is also a near insurmountable challenge and something we will have to put immense time and effort into achieving.

On the plus side there are plenty of us to work on these problems, and when we co-operate we can achieve wonders. The more we change, the less the climate will. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6W.