Only 85 years of Uranium Supplies?
Agence France-Presse reports that a British think tank opposed what it said were draft plans by the Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations to expand the use of atomic energy as a way to fight global warming.
Issuing its report before next week's G8 summit in Scotland, the New Economics Foundation on Wednesday said atomic power was an uneconomical and inefficient way to deal with climate change and would increase the risks from terrorists.
Andrew Simms, author of the report, "Mirage and Oasis," told AFP that atomic power would be too costly and too slow to develop in time to deal with the urgency of reducing the carbon emissions that cause global warming.
Simms, the foundation's policy director, said the supply of uranium needed to fuel atomic plants was too limited and would be exhausted in 85 years based on current industry estimates of availability and the existing rate of use.
"If you suddenly dramatically scaled up in a very short period of time, you'd also, a little bit like oil, you'd very quickly run into natural resource limits," he said.
In addition, increased use of atomic power would present greater risks to the problem of weapons proliferation and greater exposure to possible attacks by terrorists, the report warned.
"The more plants you have the greater the vulnerability (to attack) you have. There's no doubt about that," he said.
Instead, the report said, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power could, in theory, each individually meet all of the world's energy needs, without warming the world's climate.
It leaves no toxic legacy and is abundant and cheap to harvest both in Britain and around the world.
Practically, however, it would require a broader combination of renewable energy sources than is currently used, linked to a range of micro, small, medium and large scale technologies and applied flexibly.
"If just around one third of the UK's electricty customers installed 2KW microgen photovoltaic (solar) or wind systems it would match the capacity of the UK atomic programme."
Better still, it said, small scale renewable power technologies could provide energy supplies for millions of people who currently lack basics such as lighting or the ability to cook without inhaling indoor smoke.
The foundation said early drafts of communiques intended for the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland on July 6-8 suggest a new international push to expand atomic power, the report said.
Simms said his foundation obtained the latest draft last week, without saying exactly how it was obtained.
In a statement on the foundation website, Simms said: "Without sustainable, reliable supplies of energy, the world faces a future in which climate change and fuel shortages will combine with catastrophic results.
"The poorest and most vulnerable will suffer the worst. But a resurgence of interest in nuclear power, justified by voodoo economics, stands to hinder and potentially derail renewable energy.
"As people gather for a G8 summit that holds the financial keys to our future energy choices, it has become clear that you cannot make poverty history, without stopping runaway climate change. And that making energy sustainable is the surest way to do both."