Nuclear energy’s complications

 

Sir, – Kevin Hargaden is right to list underdiscussed complications of nuclear energy (Letters, June 9th). This country set its face firmly against its use in the 1999 Electricity Regulation Act, in response to decades of opposition to a proposed reactor at Carnsore Point. Until recently, there has been very little point in discussing the these complications. However, circumstances have changed. Demand for electricity has increased enormously and shows no sign of slowing down. Climate change is reaching crisis point. We cannot continue generating electricity by burning carbon and there is little hope that alternatives such as wind or solar power will completely replace carbon as a source of energy. We need a stable, constant minimum supply to underpin the variables of solar and wind power. What should we do? Can we not even discuss nuclear energy, complications included? – Yours, etc,

JOHN MOLLOY,

Malahide, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Kevin Hargaden of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice expresses opposition to the development of nuclear fission power plants in Ireland.

There are electricity interconnectors between Ireland and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In addition, Ireland is in the process of building the Celtic interconnector between Ireland and France. This will help to develop “an integrated energy system for the European energy market”. Electricity will flow into and out of Ireland through all interconnectors.

Both jurisdictions derive considerable levels of electricity from nuclear generation, around 20 per cent in the case of the UK and 70 per cent in France, the highest in the world. As generators are retired these proportions will decrease but nuclear will not disappear.

France is also the world’s largest net exporter of electricity, thanks in no small part to the very low cost of generation by nuclear power. Its income from this source is over €3 billion per annum.

Instead of worrying at the highly unlikely prospect of nuclear power stations in Ireland, Kevin Hardagen might consider yet another Jesuitical Irish solution to an Irish problem: importing electricity generated by nuclear plants while piously maintaining that we’ll never go nuclear. – Yours, etc,

Dr DERMOT STOKES,

Dublin 4.