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Power to pick and mix


In the news article Nuclear delays will boost gas imports by 2020 (NCE last week) professor Michael Loughton is quoted as ruling renewables out of baseline energy production due to lack of any parallel storage capacity to even out their delivery.

Whether a major scheme such as the Severn tidal barrage, with a peak output of seven times our largest nuclear plant, could be accommodated was one of the questions before the Bondi Committee some 25 years ago. Surprising though it may seem, the answer was that - given the necessary grid connections - it could.

It is a misconception to treat renewables and nuclear power as rival alternatives as their characteristics are quite dissimilar.

Renewables are sustainable, as well being indigenous, and directly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and hence carbon emissions.

Nuclear power can effectively provide base load but produces hazardous waste.

Neither can be readily switched on and off to match the variability of demand.

Traditionally fossil fuelled plants have had this role.

The Severn Barrage should remain part of this very complex debate, having been fully researched, and a source of predictable and guaranteed annual production of 17,000 GW/h with a life of at least 120 years.

Peter Ackers, (F), 4 Glebe Close, Moulsford, Wallingford, OX10 9JA

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