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Reports on Recent Conferences

July 4th, 2015

Cambridge University Energy Networks (CUEN) 2015 Annual Conference,

Murray Edward’s Collge, 11th June.

The Keynote presentation was by Bryony Worthington, who is the UK Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the House of Lords, and as such has access to current DECC thinking and information.  Having been an anti-nuclear, green campaigner, Worthington declared she was now strongly in favour of nuclear power as a means of attaining Britain’s 2050 80% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions target.

Key Points

Three key points emerged from the conference proceedings on the AP 1000 nuclear reactor:

1          The Toshiba-Westinghouse PWR (AP 1000) design was “still on the table” for Britain’s new-build nuclear programme (this is important because the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) design already exists in Britain at Sizewell in Suffolk and has operated successfully for 20 years – the father in effect of the current AP 1000).

2          The attendees generally seemed unaware of the huge cost advantage of building and maintaining a series of the same design as opposed to two or three different types modified from one plant to the next (as happened with the Magnox and AGR programmes from 1965-1995.

3          Given that in Britain, electricity supplies only around 21% f final use demand (domestic and industrial (see Renewable Energy: “Squaring the Circle” on this website), the 75% remaining being gas and oil, the target of moving to having only 20% of 1990 emissions by 2050 would effectively reverse these proportions because nuclear, wind and solar produce only electricity.

This implies an enormous programme of replacing something like 70% of existing gas and oil-fired installations – including most of the domestic gas boilers installed in the majority of British homes built since the Second World War, and even earlier.  The 2050 target would also imply a two-fold expansion of the National Grid (i.e. 150-200% more electricity pylons in the countryside) and the huge investment in the nation-wide underground gas distribution lines would become redundant.

Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA)

All these things are a direct consequence of the 2008 Climate Change Act, which Bryony Worthington, as a leading member of Friends of the Earth (FOE) proudly proclaims authorship of, in the name of saving the earth from uncontrolled warming.  Only five members of the House of Commons voted against the CCA and its emission reduction targets.

Climate Change Lecture by Professor Murry Salby

at the London Emmanuel Centre on 17 March 2015.

Professor Salby of the Universites of Colorado (USA) and McQuarie in Sydney Australia is a leading opponent of the prevailing theory of climate change.  This holds that human activity in burning hydrocarbons is responsible for the rise in the concentration in the atmosphere of the trace gas, carbon dioxide, from about 280 parts per million (0.028%) in 1830-40 to about 390 (0.039%) today.  This rise in turn is held to be the cause of the rise of an average of a set of temperature readings located on various parts of the Earth’s surface.

Professor Salby’s argument to the effect that it is the Earth’s temperature changes which cause CO2 emission rate changes – not the other way round – is set out in a 25 page booklet by Mike Haselor, Chairman of the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum, published by the Bruges Group (www.brugesgroup.com) and edited by the Rev Philip Foster, a long-term campaigner on the issue who organised the 2011 Climate Change conference (see “Averting Energy Catastrophe” in the Energy Economics section of this website).

If Professor Salby and others with similar views are correct and the International Panel on Climate change (IPCC) and the scientific consensus are wrong, this has huge implications for the policies being pursued by the governments of the UK and the European Union, and, with much less enthusiasm, by the USA and China.  For that reason Professor Salby’s main thesis is hugely unpopular with those governments and the vast range of organisations and contract holders dependent on them for money.  Nevertheless Professor Salby’s thesis deserves to be critically examined.  The fundamental scientific basis for this and related issues are painstakingly set out in his book The Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate” published by Cambridge University Press 2012.