Rethinking our energy options
Sir, – Your report (March 28th) on the plans of BW Energy and the Rethink Pylons group for a pylon-free alternative to Grid25 raises important issues of national significance, as access to a reliable, affordable and clean energy supply is vital for our national well-being. The case for co-firing biomass at Moneypoint instead of increasing our use of wind-led renewables looks compelling on the grounds of cost, energy security and reliability.
Even more compelling is the argument for replacing Moneypoint with small nuclear reactors. For example, the proposed biomass option has an estimated fuel cost of around €75 per MWh while the small nuclear option has a fuel cost of only €8 per MWh. A nuclear plant at Moneypoint would also reduce emissions cheaply and safely while requiring no new pylons or overhead lines.
The primary advantage of biomass over nuclear is that biomass is classified as renewable while nuclear is not. However, both are low-carbon options and it is the low-carbon aspect that will be most important beyond 2020. In the post-2020 world, the economics of small reactors will be vital in helping us reduce our emissions in a cost-effective manner.
Perhaps a useful compromise would be to convert the peat stations to burn more biomass while replacing Moneypoint with small nuclear plant when it closes in 2025? This would satisfy our renewables mandate and reduce emissions while keeping the cost of low-carbon energy affordable.
If the Rethink Pylons report does nothing more than stimulate a much needed rational analysis of all our electricity supply options for the coming decades it will have been well worthwhile.
Such analysis has been lacking to date and the consequences for our economy and our citizens could be far-reaching. As Solomon once said: “Without foresight, the people perish.” – Yours, etc,