A major seminar on nuclear energy in Dublin heard that, in attempting to combat climate change while securing our energy supply, Ireland needs to consider looking to nuclear energy as a potential solution.
Speaking before the seminar, Engineers Ireland Director General John Power said - "At our annual conference last year, the Taoiseach urged engineers to explore the options for Ireland's future energy supply. The Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan, echoed this earlier this year when he called for a debate on the possible role of nuclear energy in Ireland.
"Nuclear power is proposed internationally as a potential solution to the world's diminishing fossil fuels supply. As engineers, we have a responsibility to debate the various options and propose solutions to develop new energy sources, which may - or may not - include nuclear energy in the Irish case."
Speaking at the seminar, Richard Ivens (European Atomic Forum) argued that - "Meeting electricity demand and CO2 targets simultaneously, requires all low-carbon sources to be utilised - renewables, clean coal and nuclear."
Frank Turvey, former Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland Assistant Chief Executive, said that nuclear energy is better for the environment than fossil fuels and, furthermore, can provide a secure fuel supply.
"The Government's White Paper on Energy set targets for the generation of electricity using renewable energy to reach 33% of the total by 2020 and set the limit using gas in the generation of electricity to 50%. If the remaining 17% of electricity was generated by nuclear, instead of coal, 7 million tonnes per year of CO2 emissions could be avoided."
Countering this argument, GRIAN's Pat Finnegan claimed that nuclear technologies face a future of increasing cost - "It is possible to meet the world's future demand for energy services, while still phasing-out fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Ireland is well positioned to meet the challenge of securing our energy supply because we have one of the best wind resources in Europe."
The seminar was addressed by several Irish and international experts and aimed to objectively explore the potential of nuclear energy - taking into account the most recent international policy and technical developments in the area.