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back to article Nuke support in UK hits record high

Public support for nuclear energy has reached an all-time high in the UK, less than a year after the Fukushima incident. There is an interesting gender gap, though. Pollsters Ipsos MORI, who buttonholed about 1,000 Brits last month for its survey, found that 40 per cent of the sample [PDF] now hold favourable views of nuclear …

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Nuke Support

"Nuke support in UK hits record high"

Thats not what the graph says, both 2010 and the 2011 (Dec) have 40% approval, but the 2011 (Dec) data point has a higher disapproval rating.

So although those in favour of Nuclear has recovered to the level it enjoyed before Fukushima, there are now more people who are against it.

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Go

Taking "support" to mean "favourable":

What is the record support level? 40%. What level has been hit? 40%.

Did the support level (40%) hit the record high(40%)? Yes.

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HMB
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Perhaps you'd like some cherries with that? Oh! I see you've already got some :P

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Anonymous Coward

SANDLE WEARING BEARD GROWING,

wishy washy liberal tree huggers think the answer to our problems are windmills.

When the power cuts finally kick in a few years from now and they can't brew themselves a cup of nettle tea and watch the latest Eco documentary they may wish to ponder on their years of objections to nuclear power.

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Anonymous Coward

The liberal minister for energy said,

On the BBC, 'We will be paying less for power in years to come, because we will be using less'.

Is this because we will not be able to afford to switch anything on due to green energy being 6x as expensive?

OR

The powercuts will reduce consumption?

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps people are waking up to the fact that nuclear is pretty much our only option - most renewables like solar and wind are unreliable and costly (and not even 'green') and the other option is keep burning carbon and emitting CO2?

The government should concentrate more on efficiency, insulation etc. - i.e. reducing consumption - but sooner or later you need more generating capacity and nuclear is the best choice.

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+1 on that

The cheapest kWh is the one you don't have to generate. We've come a long way on energy efficiency over the years, with better insulation and low-power appliances. Of course, there's a limit to that too. Have a look at the difference in purchase cost vs running cost between an A-rated fridge-freezer and an A+++ rated one...

That's the point where you need more generation.

(Also bear in mind that in environments that need air-conditioning, solar is often a savvy option, because it generates at the time you're more likely to need that power. It's a fringe case, yes, but I'm just pointing out that solar/wind are not completely dead ducks.)

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WTF?

The government??

I'd prefer it if the government got out of the way completely and just left the market to get on with it. Nothing annoys me more than seeing my tax going to publicise crap insulaion schemes or, even worse, subsidising windmills.

The environment is far too important to be left to the idiots in govenment.

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Anonymous Coward

"Thats not what the graph says, both 2010 and the 2011 (Dec) have 40% approval, but the 2011 (Dec) data point has a higher disapproval rating."

That is not really the point - looking longer term people are (overall) more for / less against nuclear and that it has (already) recovered from the dip after Fukushima.

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Go

Perhaps people have noticed that...

...before taxes, a kWh of 'leccy is €0.0475 in Paris, and €0.1037 in London?

http://www.e-control.at/portal/page/portal/medienbibliothek/presse/dokumente/pdfs/HEPI_Juni_englisch_Final.pdf

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FAIL

"...before taxes, a kWh of 'leccy is €0.0475 in Paris, and €0.1037 in London?"

What you miss is that the €0.0475 don't include the communal costs through government subsidies and tax rebates granted to the energy industry, and also not the costs for dealing with the nuclear waste. The price for that is paid by the French through taxes.

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And the €0.1037 costs don't include having to keep an army in the middle east to protect 'our' oil supply or having to deal with rising sea levels putting London underwater.

Although personally I'm prepared to pay a lot more for electricity if it means the south east being underwater

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Cost of nuclear power - it's all in the margins

I think the bit missed here is called a "marginal cost". That's the EXTRA cost of producing one more Watt from any point. For nuclear, it is almost zero. In essence you insert a fuel rod a little more, and watch a gauge. Nuclear fuel is "used" whether it's generating electricity or not, the decay just happens. Physics is like that. In other words it costs roughly the same to have the thing sitting idle as it does to be generating on full whack.

Consider a coal plant. If it is not being used, it's very cheap. You have to pay for labour and whatever fuel is needed to keep it ticking over. Once it needs to be used every Watt it generates needs a shovel (or whatever) of coal thrown in. The cost of the extra Watt is Very High Indeed. If a “shovel of coal” costs £1, and you sell electricity for £1.20 per “shovel equivalent” (I’ll call it a Watt to make life simple) you make a marginal profit of 20p per Watt sold. It’s not that simple though, because you have to pay all those fixed costs. Imagine they are £1million per year. To cover the costs you have to sell £1million divided by £0.20 Watts = 5 million Watts. After that, every extra Watt makes you 20p.

Now back to Nuclear. The fixed costs are higher, so let’s say £2million. Each Watt costs 1p to generate (remember, the fuel is a fixed cost, and in that £2million). So each Watt we sell makes us £1.19. We have to sell £2M/£1.19 or about 1.7million Watts to reach break even. After that, each Watt we sell makes us £1.19. At 5million Watts, where coal breaks even, we have made 3.3million Watts times £1.19 or nearly £4,000,000. Those numbers are made up, but demonstrate the point of why it’s cheap. The tipping point will be at a very different point in reality, but there will be one.

Having high fixed costs is economically risky. If there was no demand then the nuclear plant would have a £2million loss, the coal plant £1million. So the secret is to keep nuclear plants as busy as you can, selling as much electricity as you can. Enter the Interconnectors. These are links between grids, such as between France and the UK. It is almost exclusively pulling (or pushing, I dunno) electricity FROM France TO the UK, not the other way. Why? Well, it’s cheap for France to generate extra Watts to help us out, so it makes lots of money doing it. Going the other way, we with out unpredictable wind and marginally expensive coal plants can’t compete with France, so we don’t tend to sell that way. Unless there is some disaster in France or elsewhere in mainland Europe, and they need all the power they can get. This, by the way, also helps out the French tax payer and the French nukes in keeping French prices down.

That's the nuclear model, that's why it's so cheap - IT'S THE MARGINAL COST OF PRODUCTION, that far, far outweighs the hidden costs you refer to, especially as all energy sources have subsidies, and the costs of nuclear waste storage are not as expensive as you would think, in the context of the sums one is considering for power generation for a whole country.

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Anonymous Coward

@Yet Another Commentard

Generating power from nuclear fission requires the splitting of atoms. This is slowed down by the presence of boron rods inserted into the fissionable material so fewer atoms are split. It therefore follows that with the rods inserted to produce less electricity, fewer atoms are split and therefore less fuel is used. Just like using the accelerator on the car, it uses a small amount of fuel when stationary but more when you increase the required output.

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FAIL

@Marginal cost

"Nuclear fuel is "used" whether it's generating electricity or not, the decay just happens."

That's definitely not true for nuclear reactors which are used on earth for producing electricity. In those you create a controlled chain reaction where you use neutrons to split the atom, creating more neutrons which split more atoms. (one important part about keeping a reactor running is to make sure only one neutron hits another atom at the right speed)

So if you have an unused fuel rod lying around somewhere it'll essentially do nothing. It's even only weakly radioactive. Only when you start the chain reaction you will get useful amounts of power.

What you might mean is a "Radioisotope thermoelectric generator". Those are moderately safe, but those only generate a kilowatt at most. They were used for space probes and pacemakers. Those actually run out of fuel no matter if you use the electricity or not. But that's really expensive.

To put some numbers into the discussion. When I go to my muncipal electricity company here in Germany, and ask for completely renewable energy, I'll have to pay 22,68 Eurocents per kilowatthour. That's about 0.19 pounds. And that covers the cost of not using any fossil fuel or nuclear power as well as taxes and everything until it reaches my socket.

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Paris Hilton

They should have also asked how favourable/unfavourable Tsunamis are too.

As a control question as to the intelligence of the person they are polling.

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Because Nuclear Power...

...is awesome.

Look at the facts. There's:

Burning coal, like your Grandad used to (and he had an outside bog too.)

Windmills, like on Camberwick Green.

Gas, like on your Mam's boring old hob.

Solar, like on the pink calculator you get laughed at for in school.

Biomass, which is just stinky, old rubbish.

Then there's SPLITTING THE FUCKING ATOM. You know, like a NUCLEAR FUCKING BOMB MAN!!!!1

You can't argue with my data.

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Mushroom

also

no-one is ever going to get super powers from a fucking windmill.

Nuclear power, because I want X-Ray vision.

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@tmTM

Bravo, sir!

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Too little, too late.

Problem is, it's all too late. We've been pursuing a power policy based on utter fantasy for years and now the time to build new nuclear plants is too long. We need to get cracking right now, but planning consents, public consultations etc.etc. will ensure it'll take years. Nuclear is our only option at the moment and has been for years. All the alternatives pursued for the last couple of decades were so obviously flawed for a variety of reasons.

If we start getting power shortages, I just hope someone has the bottle to turn off the people who caused it first. The greens, anti-nuclear etc. Leave those of us sensible enough to see reality alone. The whole thing has been one big con for 20 years.

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Happy

RE: Too little, too late.

".....We need to get cracking right now, but planning consents, public consultations etc.etc. will ensure it'll take years....." A few years ago I had a chat with a civvie servant who said there were ways round such matters. True, this was after several beers, but his option was quite amusingly simple - government decides to have nuke-powered ships/submarines; invests in the nuke powerplant research/production (could be based on current Trident sub systems); then cancels nuke ships/subs after having produced working "engines"; announces it will save money by using the cancelled nuke powerplants as generators for UK military facilities (getting round the planning and consent bits); feeds excess power from new militray bases into the grid. Apparently, the idea came from American work in the '50s when they converted a nuke sub into a leccy powerstation.

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Planning consent

Two points:

1. Once the lights start to dim, consent becomes easy.

2. No doubt there is a workaround based upon security of energy supply, national security or any other story a Government can come up with.

At the end of the day even the Greens will want the lights on.

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Ru
Meh

Barring some technological miracle,

support for nuclear power in the UK will eventually become demand, cos unfortunately we're not all willing to martyr ourselves to the renewables cause. Electricity bills can't keep rising forever without protest.

Maybe we'll get magical cheap, efficient photovoltaic cells next year. I suspect it is rather more likely that the power fairies will come power our heating systems for us.

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Its not a question of martyrdom

Its a question of actual feasibility.

Renewable energy of at least the intermittent kind cant do the job alone, and there is no alternative that is feasible beyond fossil to complement it with.

There is also the mater of energy density, which is low for all renewables, and population density, which is high for the UK at least.

David Mackay estimates we consume about 5Kw per head to live as we do. The industry standard for wind power is just 2w/square meter AVERAGE. So that is 2500 square meters - 2.5 square kilometers, - per head of population to satisfy our total energy needs with renewable windmills.

Plus some kind of storage to tide us over those grey cold windless days..and nights..a lake the size of Loch Ness, and 1000 meters deep should just about keep us going..Oh... No such lake exists, or can be built.

Bummer.

Whereas with nuclear, we don't need the storage - that's taken care of in the atomic nucleus already, and storing a few decades of nuclear fuel is entirely feasible -- and the actual power density of a nuclear plant is around 2kW/sq meter. two and a half square meters of land for each and every one of our energy needs is a lot less than we need just to sleep, so suddenly we get our country and land area back for food, houses, recreation, and all the other things that make a non 'renewable' life worth living...

Those who realize that renewable energy cannot ever, has not ever and will not ever be a realistic proposition, at current population levels, are left with the potentially injurious burning of whatever fossil fuel is left, nuclear energy, or a return to medieval population levels via a massive die back in population.

The jury is still out on climate change, but not on renewable energy, amongst the modestly intelligent part of the population. The grim acceptance that nuclear power is the only practical way forward at this point in time, has arrived, and, with it, the understanding that its problems are at least susceptible to careful technological solutions, wheres those of the renewable fantasy are not - they are intrinsic to the energy sources.

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Anonymous Coward

A square kilometre is a MILLION square metres

As title.

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Nukes make more sense for today's carbon-sensitive world, no matter what happened in Japan. In fact, that old nuclear plant was never designed for the size of quake that it withstood remarkably well, considering.

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Mushroom

Not to mention that the likelihood of an equivalent earthquake and/or tsunami is pretty bloody low in the UK.

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er, Bristol Channel, 1607 anyone?

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Meh

Yeah-

and another Tunguska -bam!- no more Russian Gas.

Your point?

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@The Grime

Seven minutes past four in the afternoon?

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Unreliable and costly

I hate the way Britain has become so timid and backward looking.

In Germany they are running into all the anticipated problems right now, especially with their wind farms (surges of excess energy which are overwhealming the electricity transportation grid and can't be stored). Are they throwing their hands up in despair? No, they're getting creative and investing in the future.

The biggest upgrade of the electricity grid since it was built, is about to happen to solve the transportation problem.

But what about storage? That's the real killer. Well, there's a bloody brilliant idea which is (probably) going to be put into action relatively quickly and cheaply. The idea is to use the thousands of kilometers of underground tunnels left over after a few centuries of mining in and around the most populated areas. These extremely deep tunnels are perfect batteries for potential energy, in the same way that we use lakes for storing energy between times of peak demand.

As for Fukushima, ... trying to get insight into the Nuclear industry in the public media in the U.S. or U.K. is about as likely as having a British Newspaper explain just what the City of London is (hint, it's not at all what you think it is if you think it's just another word for "London"....).

http://www.fairewinds.com/updates - if you want hard facts about the consequences of Fukushima, the factual design inadequacies of existing nuclear powerplants, and an insight into the lazy and corrupt nature of the industry as a whole.

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Paris Hilton

Sorry what?

I may be missing something here, but how do you pump energy into a tunnel? (innuendo aside)

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I'm assuming he's talking about compressed air, it's been done at a few locations around the world.

Pump air into a huge space at off peak times and release though a turbine at on peak times.

http://www.next100.com/2009/08/pge-opts-for-energy-storage.php

The thing is, because compressed air is not very energy dense you need huge enclosed spaces with a lot of structural strenght to do it , hence mines and cave systems. Its also not very efficent losing energy through heat when you compress the air - some sites use heat exchangers to take heat from the compression pump and apply it to the air being released to improve on the efficency.

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Holmes

Pumping energy in is the easy bit.

Pumping even a small fraction of that back out days/hours later is the hard bit.

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@ Ben 50: So inaccurate it's comical

I've had a look at that website and it is publishing fairy tales as fact.

20mSv/yr is the internationally accepted dose rate LIMIT for nuclear workers. Dose rates to the public have to be below 1mSv/yr or, to put it bluntly, much less than the background radiation dose you get from living.

No government in the world would allow the 20mSv dose rate for the public.

1 additional cancer for every 100 girls? I'd love to see their analysis! Internal or external dose? Ingestion, inhalation or contaminated wounds? What nuclide is giving the dose?

Like I said above, fairy tales!

Oh, have you tried to look beyond the media? Nearly everything about the nuclear industry in this country is in the public domain. Only details that compromise the security of the plant, or the country are classified.

Face it Ben, you don't know what you're talking about. (and neither does that site you linked to either)

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Ru
Facepalm

You what?

You're trying to tell us that it is a good thing that the Germans are squandering vast amounts of money on trying to deal with the power storage issue, when they had a perfectly good nuclear power system in place already? Decomissioning those old nuke plants in response to Fukushima hysteria (seriously, how tectonically active is Germany these days?) is a colossal disservice to anyone who has to pay taxes to the German government, or buy power from German power companies.

And using underground tunnels for power storage? Hint: pumped storage systems are built at altitude for a good reason. Also have a think about exactly how polluted all those tunnels are.

If the nuclear industry is lazy and corrupt, then it needs to be fixed. Filling our country with windfarms and pumped storage schemes and vastly increasing electricity bills is not an appropriate or sustainable response.

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Anonymous Coward

I hate the way Britain has become so timid and backward looking."

Well, actually it's not surprising. Britain has lost leadership in almost any major technical sector, so it's not surprising that it does the same with renewable energy.

Nuclear power is not environmentally friendly. While it's perceived by the masses as clean, in fact it's not. Aside from the problem with the radiating waste (and no, not everything can be recycled), the mining and enrichment process is a really dirty mess, which most people never see as all that comes out of a nuclear power plant is water vapor from the cooling towers (which btw is also a contributor to climate change). And besides all that, uranium reserves are, similar to oil, not endless.

Nuclear power is also not cheap. I can't find the source right now but apparently the real price (which includes the costs for waste disposal, subsidies, grants, tax rebates and other government support) for power from a French or German nuclear power plant paid by the public is more like €1 to 1.30 *per kWh*. But the majority of this is paid indirectly through taxes, and therefore not directly visible to the customers. And it's of very high interest to the nuclear industry to keep the real costs out of our view.

Then there is the danger. I agree that another Chernobyl is unlikely but the nuclear industry has a proven track record of incompetence, negligience and untrustworthyness, with (at least borderline) criminal beahvior, which more often than not has put public safety at risk for pure cost savings and personal enrichment. It's beyond me how the public can still trust these criminals to maintain high safety standards, but the public as an entity knows jack sh*t about anything and is generally stupid as a mule, and if given the chance almost certainly always makes the wrong decisions.

Nuclear power in an outdated idea from the 60's. It may have it's use in special areas (i.e. as power source for space craft), but clinging to it as means of generating electricity is completely backward thinking. But then, most British houses are build after the same old Victorian style, and having separate taps for cold and warm water instead of a mixer tap as the rest of the world is considered to be a sign of 'character', so maybe Britain is inherently backward, and needs to be taught another lesson by another country that there are alternatives for things Brits consider there is no alternative for.

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> No, they're getting creative and investing in the future.

By building lots of new coal plants, indeed. Very creative.

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> Nuclear power in an outdated idea from the 60's.

Wind power is an outdated idea from the ancient Greeks. Your point?

NOTHING is environmentally friendly. There are no perfect solutions. All that's left is to pick the least worst option...

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> And using underground tunnels for power storage? Hint: pumped storage systems are built at

> altitude for a good reason. Also have a think about exactly how polluted all those tunnels are.

So turn it around. Generate power from filling the holes by gravity, and pump it back out when there's spare power. That's not the problem. (Even leakage works in your favour here.)

It won't be very efficient, but granted it's a way to store energy that's not too far out there.

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typical 'could' cuckoo land

Now go away and actually do the sums on all that BS you have spourted, and when it comes back that Germany will be bankrupt and shivering in tow decades and taking all of its power from a nuclear France, then we can talk.

Germany and Denmark are way way worse at CO2 emissions per unit electricity than Switzerland (hydro + nuclear) or France (nuclear plus a bit of fossil).

Its all very fine to destroy your country by 'going renewable' for political reasons but the evidence is that it wont reduce fossil fuel consumption one iota.

Since that is its sole justification, what on earth is the point of it at all?

The correct answer is that there is no technological or climate change point: there is merely a political perception and profit motive.

It becomes, in the end, a way to get elected, for stupid people to take the moral high ground, and for energy companies to raise their prices.

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@captainhook

"I'm assuming he's talking about compressed air, it's been done at a few locations around the world."

Perhaps the gasometer model. These are not filled with (compressed) gas but with water.

the gas enters an underground storage space and displaces the water into the extensible tanks seen above ground. Its the head of water that provides the pressure and energy storage not the compression of the gas on a fixed size container.

As these are being "retired" by varouius gas boards, these would become ideal small scale local generating facilities - especiallya s they are often located on industrial sites - next to HVAC lines.

A small genset could take low cost offpeakl leccy pump air into the old gas storage tank and during peak generate leccy. I doubt this would actually be a vaiable business model and would not sit under the governments renewables targets but it is clean simple and would "just work".

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Vic
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> it is clean simple and would "just work".

I'm not sure that's actually the case...

The sort of volume of water we're talking about really isn't that great; if you work out the total energy storage in a gasometer, it's going to be pretty much ineffective as an electricity supply.

Gasometers held enough energy to sustain the gas *pressure*...

Vic.

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HVAC

High Voltage Alternating Current, aka high tension lines

Back to the subject, as a backdrop to the intermittent nature of renewables, you need a multi-tiered approach. The only system that I am aware of that can deal with surges in demand or drops in production on a reasonably short time scale (i.e. seconds) is hydro-electric. Open the valves at the top and a few seconds later you have power. Every other system needs time to spin up as they involve converting water (or other fluid) to high pressure superheated gas and that entire process takes time to warm up and get going.

Nuclear needs to happen because the tree-huggers won't let us burn gas, oil or coal, but they won't let us build nukes either because of the waste problems once they're past their usable life. Which leaves us with a fundamental problem with environmental groups - they think that the solution is for people to have no power for days at a time when the renewables cannot produce enough to power the grid. Until the tree-huggers realise the flaws in their demands, or the government stops pandering to them, the rest of the country will suffer.

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An0n C0w4rd

And therein lies the problem. From my experience of them, tree huggers don't expect people to go without electricity. To them, it's simply that another solution needs to be found. They start pointing out windmills etc. and once you point out the flaws, just start on about 'another alternative has to be found.' In other words, I haven't a clue what we can use, but these are bad and shouldn't be used. It's not about them wanting us not to have electricity, or to live in caves, it simply that they know what they don't like, but are clueless to come up with an alternative that works. They tend to hold out on some future panacea that somehow will majically appear from nowhere.

There are also a lot who say windmills are the answer and yet when planning permission is sought near their home (say within eyesight), they are the first to complain!! They always want it to be someone elses problem.

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Anonymous Coward

"...before taxes, a kWh of 'leccy is €0.0475 in Paris, and €0.1037 in London?"

Surprise, surprise the French have a lot of nuclear power.

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So what?

Spend more, get better quality (less risk, less damage to the environment, and less incentive to waste as much energy).

If the difference was a few thousand percent, and it meant you didn't have enough money left to eat, then you might have a point.

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@Ben

"less incentive to waste as much energy"

Yeah, cos what we really need is for it to cost more to turn out ovens on and cook dinner (combined with rising food prices). And obviously the increased price will help us understand that it's OK for us and our kids to be cold.

You either have too much fucking money or are completely deficient in sense.

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