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Energy crisis


BNFL waded into the energy debate this week, warning that Britain could face an energy crisis of Californian proportions. It says the government must decide soon how it is going to replace nuclear plants nearing the end of their shelf life. What should the government do?

The answer is twofold. Energy conservation must be taken much more seriously. How often do we see shops and offices with all the lights and computers left on when nobody is at work? Secondly, renewable energy is the key to Britain's future. Being on the edge of the continent we have huge resources of wind, wave and tidal power waiting to be exploited. Stop the NIMBY's and build more wind farms.

Kenneth Brown, 28, structural engineer, Edinburgh

The main thrust has to be nuclear - cleaner and more efficient than ever before - if it is to find favour. But a major effort must be made in the development of alternative sources so that in 20 years time we can bring in a much more significant contribution from these alternative ideas.

Bob Gregory, 64, university lecturer and consultant, Isle of Wight

Why not remove politics from the agenda, recognise that Britain is a wet and windy island with a coastline battered by fierce seas, and start proposing, designing and implementing solutions which make maximum use of these resources? Civil engineers need to take partial responsibility for the promotion of alternative energy use so we should be part of the solution.

Bruce Walton, 29, assistant project manager, Manchester

This government has given much coverage to sustainable/ renewable energy sources but, like the last one, there has been very little delivery. They must lead the way by deciding what is an acceptable premium for cleaner energy.

Mark Lomas, 37, project manager, Hong Kong

Energy shortages pose the thorny question of sustainability.

Can we sustain our present lifestyle? Bush's rejection of the Kyoto agreement shows that he realises Americans are not prepared to make sacrifices to reduce CO 2emissions. The question is, are we?

Nigel Horwell, 40, group engineer, Cornwall

Much as I would like it to be so, wind, wave and solar power will not supply anything like the capacity which will be needed. So, a quantum leap - if nuclear cannot be made safe enough, how about harnessing the energy in the motion of the planets?

Paul Reading, 52, consultant Northampton

As nuclear power supplies Britain with around 25% of its electricity, it is obviously a vital resource. As a nation we are now faced with a decision about how we want to live in the future. It would be easy to commission new nuclear facilities which would be running by the time the existing ones are decommissioned, but is this the best in the long term?

Pete Wilkie, 22, student, Newcastle

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