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Resistance to Nuclear Power Based on Fear

A University of Southampton academic who has spent most of his career in power engineering, claims that opposition to nuclear energy is based on fear and ignorance.

Professor Jan Sykulski, Head of Group in Electrical Power Engineering at the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), speaking this week in response to the Government’s decision to give the go-ahead for a new wave of power stations said:

‘Opponents of nuclear energy contest it primarily due to fear of a technology which has in the past made big news for very much the wrong reasons – there have been problems and there have been accidents.

‘Whether or not we are in favour of nuclear power, what has become very clear is the fact that many decisions about energy are made without regard to the sound technical arguments.’

Professor Sykulski went on to claim that political considerations can lead to decisions being made under pressure or based on misconceptions about things like "free" energy, such as wind energy, which in reality costs much more than energy produced using conventional means.

According to Professor Sykulski, the main challenge in power engineering is what to do when natural energy reserves are exhausted. Data about when that might occur seem to be rather unreliable but, even if availability is not an immediate issue, energy costs are likely to continue to rise so exploring alternatives constitutes a major ongoing challenge.

‘I suggest that we back the Government’s plans so that we maintain energy reserves for those who come after us,’ he said.

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