Tuesday 19 June 2007

Ryan calls for debate on turning to nuclear power

The new Green Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, has added his voice to calls for a debate on nuclear power for Ireland.

Mr Ryan said the crises caused by climate change and the impending decline in world oil supplies meant that "we have to look at everything" in terms of energy supplies. "I've no objection to a debate. I was encouraging one for the last number of years because we do need to be well informed," Mr Ryan said on RTÉ's Drivetime programme.

Nuclear power could "do something" by helping to generate electricity, but it could not provide a solution to existing power needs in transport and heating, he said.

A rational examination of nuclear power would show that it could not provide an easy or cheap solution to Ireland's future energy needs. It would show that an emphasis on renewable energy and energy conservation would provide a better solution.

Mr Ryan said the Government's stated aim of generating 33 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 was "the base of our ambitions". But getting off our 90 per cent dependence on imported fossil fuels would not be easy.

"We need to start weaning ourselves off this dependence by delivering policies which deliver changes in our everyday lives."

Last week, Amicus, the union representing engineers and other professionals working for the ESB, called for nuclear power to be considered in the debate on Ireland's future energy policies.

Paul Cullen
© 2007 The Irish Times

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