Coming soon to Ireland?
If Ireland is serious about its renewable energy targets, it is going to have to consider nuclear energy as a option according to a report carried out by Pöyry Energy Consultants.
The report states that if Ireland is serious about cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and to meet the country's future energy demands, it must seriously consider a nuclear option. While the country is pursuing other renewable options such as wind energy, the report said that the government must not rule out nuclear power altogether.
"Many countries' approach to decarbonisation includes a growing nuclear element. Although nuclear power plants are not currently a legal option in Ireland, we believe that due consideration of them as an option is worthwhile," said the Pöyry Energy report.
Is nuclear power a renewable energy?
Despite its low cost and high rate of energy production, nuclear energy is the bane of many environmental groups. While it doesn't produce harmful greenhouse gases such as CO2, it does produce harmful by-products that can remain hazardous for thousands of years.
Currently there is no legal framework to allow the construction of a nuclear plant and no regulatory body or even a nuclear industry to speak of, however the report highlighted the contribution nuclear energy could make to a small energy market such as Ireland's. Currently Ireland only has a capacity of around 5 GW, a nuclear power plant could contribute up to 1 GW towards this and significantly reduce its carbon emissions.
Despite lobbying to get the number of nuclear power stations reduced, countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom are eager to increase their number, and the fact that nuclear stations produce no greenhouse gases might allow the nuclear energy sector to be regarded as 'renewable' allowing the same subsidies and friendly policies offered to clean energies like wind, solar and biomass.
This may seem ludicrous as there is no way a wind farm can create another 'Chernobyl', but it has not stopped the nuclear sector from acquiring the green label.
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