Nuclear power and energy security

 

Sir, – The European Union is to classify nuclear energy and natural gas as “more environmentally friendly sources of energy”.

The European Commissioner responsible for the recommended classification has accepted that nuclear and natural gas can play a useful part in lowering emissions across the EU.

In Ireland, it is the Government’s job to drive policy on factors of public concern, including, crucially, energy security. The Citizens’ Assembly in 2016 set the scene of nuclear neglect by omitting it from debate on “How to make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change”; since then governments have been woefully negligent in researching and communicating the possible benefits of small nuclear reactors likely to be coming on stream toward the end of this decade.

Removal of our two legal barriers to nuclear energy would be a step toward driving political and public debate on how to decarbonise our society effectively.

We need to deal with this political obstruction now. Then we can concentrate on increasing public understanding and support for a suitable proportion of low-carbon nuclear energy gradually replacing the high-carbon natural gas presently supporting our electricity system.

Even if legal barriers to nuclear were removed, it is unlikely that a working reactor (small modular reactor) could be in place before the early to mid-2030s. It would be worth the wait if the national policy then included a proportion of nuclear energy, gradually replacing high-carbon natural gas and significantly lowering our carbon emissions. – Yours, etc,

Dr ANNE BAILY,

Carrick-on-Suir,

Co Tipperary.