STOP PRESS: Helen Caldicott's book called Nuclear power is not the answer explains very well why nuclear power is such a bad option. It's an excellent
If you would be willing to help with this campaign,
please read on.
There are many problems with nuclear power, and many of them are serious. By
contrast, concentrating solar power (CSP) has huge potential to supply large parts of the world with inexpensive,
pollution-free electricity, with none of the problems of nuclear power.
There should be no contest: CSP should normally be the clear winner. But CSP
is not yet well known and, unlike nuclear power, it has not had the benefit of huge overt and covert subsidies, and
there are not large funds available to spend on media campaigns and the lobbying
At present, large numbers of articles, reports and blogs about nuclear power are appearing in
newspapers, magazines and websites around the world. In one way or another, most
of them have the effect of promoting nuclear power and the majority gloss over
the many problems with nuclear power (see, for example,
power: fission future" in The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Virginia). Although these articles are, rather literally, bad news, they are actually an
opportunity. Several volunteers, each one putting in a
relatively small amount of effort, can correct much of the misleading
is being spread and can, at the same time, raise
awareness of CSP around the world.
If you would like to help with this campaign, here is how it works:
- Set up Google News Alerts to find articles that include the phrase "nuclear
power". This will send you links to relevant articles, reports and blogs from all around the
world, as they are published. Set the Google alert to be 'comprehensive' and you will
see the size of the problem.
- When you find an article, report or blog about nuclear power, you can either or both of
- Post a comment about the article or blog on the website where it
appears. Most online newspapers and magazines now provide a means for
readers to make comments. An example of the kind of comment that may be
- Send a 'letter for publication' to the journal for publication in its
print edition or its online edition or both those things. An example letter
is shown below.
Its as simple as that! We have several example letters for different parts of the world which just need a small amount of editing before sending off.
If you would be willing to help with this campaign,
please set up your own news alerts and respond directly to articles that appear.
Even if a letter does not get
published, it helps to raise awareness, amongst journalists and editors, of CSP
and the problems of nuclear power. Even if an article argues against nuclear
power, that still provides an opportunity to send a letter or comment to raise awareness of CSP.
We badly need to correct the
misleading information that is being spread about nuclear power and to raise awareness of
CSP. This campaign can do both those things.
If you want to check whether any of your letters or comments have been
published search the web with Google using a search pattern like this:
"your name" key_word
Put your name in double quotes so that Google searches for that exact phrase
and add a key word such as 'solar' to weed out items by
other people who have the same name. Remember
that it may take a while for your letter or comment to be published and there
may be a further interval before Google has the entry properly indexed.
From time to time, we will search for letters and comments that contain "www.trecers.net"
or "www.trec-uk.org.uk" and we will post a link
to each one on www.trec-uk.org.uk/letters.htm, with credit to the author.
Here is an example of the kind of online comment you may post:
Regarding your article "In the global energy rush,
nuclear gets a resurgence" (2007-01-06), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the US
is a simple mature technology available that can deliver huge amounts of clean
energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.
I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating
sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam
and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It
is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation
may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been
generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a
million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP
plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.
CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, these are not always nearby! But
it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long
distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission
losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may be transmitted to
anywhere in the US. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US "could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or about seven times the current total US electric capacity" (emphasis added).
In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the
German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North
Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of
electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC
transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of
optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.
Further information about CSP may be found at www.trecers.net and www.trec-uk.org.uk . Copies
of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm .
The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .
The last paragraph is the most important. If you need to shorten the
letter, do try to include the web links in the last paragraph.
Some other example letters/comments, relating to different parts of the
world, can be seen on the page of example letters. These letters have been progressively refined to communicate the main TREC
ideas without taking too much space. By all means adapt the letters so that
they relate to particular articles but do try to include as many as possible
of the points that are made in these letters. In most cases, the amount of
adaptation that is needed will be quite small—and this should make it relatively
quick and easy to send off each letter.
Here are some other points that you may want to include:
- Every year, each square kilometre of hot desert receives solar energy
equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Multiplying by the area of deserts
world-wide, this is several hundred times the entire current energy
consumption of the world.
- The cost of collecting solar thermal energy equivalent to one barrel of
oil is about US$50 right now (already less than the current world price) and
is likely to come down to around US$20 in future.
- If it was covered with CSP plants, an area of the Sahara of about 254 km × 254 km—less than 1% of the area of that desert—would
generate as much electricity as the world currently consumes.
- Waste heat from electricity generation in a CSP plant can be used to
create fresh water by desalination of sea water: a very useful by-product in
- The shaded areas under CSP mirrors are relatively cool and protected from
the full glare of the tropical sun. They can be useful for many purposes
including horticulture using desalinated sea water.
- The point about long distance transmission is valid in a surprisingly large
number of places. It would, for example, be feasible and economic to transmit
solar electricity throughout India from the Thar Desert or even from hot deserts in the Middle East.
There are some more points in a page about nuclear power on the web.
Letter for publication
A letter for publication (in print editions or online editions or both) can
have similar content but needs to be more like this:
LETTER FOR PUBLICATION [this can also be put in the
'subject' area for the email]
SOLAR, NOT NUCLEAR
[The body of the letter can be much the same as the online comment, above]
[Put your name here]
[Then put in your phone number, email address and full postal address. Most
newspapers or magazines will not publish letters unless they are supplied with
this information. That said, they normally only give your name and the town or
country where you live. You can, if you wish, ask any journal to publish
your letter anonymously, with "Name and address supplied" at the end.]
Please note: Most journals like to receive letters for publication
as emails in plain text or as plain text via an online form - and they don't
like attachments to emails because they may contain computer viruses.
Response from the pro-nuclear lobby
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! An indication of the success of the CSPNN campaign is that the pro-nuclear lobby has started to imitate it. They are beginning to post letters and comments responding to the letters and comments that we have posted.
The arguments they are using are very weak and easily rebutted. An example of the kind of response that can be made is shown on the page of example letters.
Publicising the campaign
It will help to spread the word about this campaign, and about CSP, if you
can send an email to your friends and fellow green campaigners, something like this:
CORRECTING MISLEADING INFORMATION ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER
AND RAISING AWARENESS OF A MAJOR ALTERNATIVE
Thanks to the magic of Google Alerts, it is now possible
to know that, in newspapers, magazines and blogs around the world, large numbers
of articles, reports and comments are appearing that present nuclear power in a
favourable light and gloss over its many problems. If you would like to help
with an easy-to-do online campaign to correct some of the misleading information
that is being spread, and to raise awareness of a major alternative to nuclear
power, please go to www.mng.org.uk/green_house/cspnn.htm .
PLEASE SEND THIS MESSAGE TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO MAY LIKE TO