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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Does the UK need more nuclear power?
Should the British government commission a new generation of nuclear reactors?

The UK relies on nuclear power for 20% of electricity, yet all but one of its nuclear power stations are set to close by 2023.

With ambitious targets on combating climate change, rising gas and oil prices and dwindling domestic supplies of fossil fuels, many argue nuclear power has to be part of the future "energy mix".

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said all options "including civil nuclear power" should be considered, and called for an "open-minded" debate on the issue.

What do you think? Do you think the UK can meet energy demand and tackle greenhouse gas emissions effectively without nuclear power? Tell us what you think.

This debate is now closed. Please read a selection of your comments below

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Nuclear power is, with current technology, a necessity if we are keen to generate more energy from wind power, or other 'unreliable' renewable sources. The problem is that we are all used to "power on demand"- ie when we turn on the switch we expect something to happen. Wind power is clean, but only provides reliable power about 25% of the time, when wind speeds are appropriate. As a back up, we must have a power source that can be turned on quickly to meet demand - nuclear power is the only one that can do this economically: ie building more wind turbines necessitates the building of more nuclear power stations. Governments have to do this!
Eric Gillies, Glasgow

Additional nuclear reactors should be built throughout the developed world
Larry Kealey, Texas, USA
Without a doubt, additional nuclear reactors should be built throughout the developed world. Failure to begin this process now will result in a terrible energy crisis in the next 10 years - the result of which will be world-wide depression. Think about living without electricity for a few moments...
Larry Kealey, Sugar Land, Texas, USA

Nuclear power is currently the only meaningful technology that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even taking into account the fuel and energy required to build the reactors in the long-term life of the plant it comes out ahead. Unlike, for example, solar power where the energy investment equation can be negative when looking at the environmental impact.
James, Ellesmere Port UK

The problem here is that every one has forgotten fusion reactors. The decision to actually build the very first commercial fusion plant has only just been taken. Fusion is a lot cleaner than normal Fission reactors which we have now. Dare I say it: Britain actually has been looking at this for a long time as a research project and I believe makes a considerable contribution. So you may need to use fission reactors for a period of time while the engineering of a fusion reactor is perfected.
Andre Powell, Hedge End UK

We must simply reduce our consumption of energy, nuclear or otherwise
Jerry Barford, Toulouse, France
We are missing the point completely. We must simply reduce our consumption of energy, nuclear or otherwise. Lighting great big fires, nuclear or otherwise, makes the planet hotter. The heat from your electric fire does not disappear when it has warmed your house. It leaks out, slower or faster depending on the quality of your insulation, and warms the planet. Sure a layer of carbon dioxide helps to keep it here longer before it eventually seeps out into space, but if you don't want to get hot, don't light the fire in the first place. Simple, no?
Jerry Barford, Toulouse, France

I believe more funding and efforts should be put forward towards the nuclear fusion reactor being planned... Most other forms of power generation provide harmful bi-products be it in the form of greenhouse gasses or nuclear waste. Alternatively I still don't believe wind farm technology or solar power are being exploited to their full extent - and the cynic in me says because there isn't enough tax revenue in it.
Steve Mason, Leicester, UK

Mining uranium burns up a lot of diesel (big trucks and shovels) at mines around the world. We should spend more on clean coal technology. The UK's reserves of coal were over 300 years according to the NCB in the '70s. It's all sitting in the ground.
Andy Pix, Mt Isa, Australia

In an ideal world, our power would come from non-polluting, renewable sources like solar cells and windmills. Unfortunately these do not have the power level required. Therefore nuclear power can be used to provide the base energy, while the renewables can help when there is excessive demand. Don't forget Chernobyl happened due to poor Soviet technology/design and human error. We have come a long way since then.
Ilan, Sydney, Australia

Unless people and industries are willing to economise on their electricity consumption then there is no realistic choice but to go for new build nuclear power. There are far worse carcinogenic contaminants than radioactive wastes that the general population are regularly exposed to through their daily activities.
Alison Robinson, Bettyhill, Sutherland

I imagine that nuclear power will have to be used sooner or later, as fossil fuels won't last forever and renewable forms of energy are still being developed to be available to more and more of the population. The most pressing problems concerning nuclear energy are the possibility of an accident at a nuclear reactor or fuel plant, such as those which occurred at Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. The cons however are believed to be outweighed by the pros, such as much less carbon dioxide being produced and uranium abundant.
J.Martin, Kent, U.K.

I have thought for a long time that the UK needs a nuclear programme for the long-term future of sustainable power. Renewables are great but they will only power the nation's electric tooth brushes and DVD players! Until people are ready to give up dishwashers, washing machines and all the other labour saving devices then nuclear power, I think, is essential.
Howard Spencer, London


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