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Fission for answers


It was very brave of you to come down against nuclear power (Comment NCE 6 October), which may well upset those seeking large construction contracts.

The Energy White Paper two years ago did try to inform the debate by highlighting the power efficiency of energy use in the UK, nearly half wasted, and that electricity supplies about 10% of our needs. So even if all electricity in future was nuclear, it would make only a small difference to the greenhouse emissions of the other 90% from sectors like transport where there are as yet no viable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Some of us can remember the switch from open coal fires in houses to gas central heating, triggered by the 1952 London Smog and the Clean Air Act 1956. Millions of people invested in upgrading their heating, improving efficiency and reducing pollution. At the same time new skills were needed and new industries developed for installation.

Perhaps this might offer another approach to reducing energy waste and greenhouse emissions- Properly insulating 23M homes, and requiring air conditioning systems to be sold only with photo-voltaic panel to generate the electricity needed, can be undertaken incrementally and produce lasting benefits.

Other ideas for small scale energy efficiency investments can be found on www. grunweb.

org. uk . These provide challenges for engineers, but no less than the ones overcome to exploit fossil fuels.

Professor Lewis Lesley, technical director, TRAM Power, Liverpool L11 OEE

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