Householders, businesses, indeed, power consumers of all shapes and sizes are bracing themselves for the suicidal results of looming Net-Zero CO2 emissions targets.

We’ll start from the premise that nothing will shake the resolve of the lunatics who pretend to govern us, when it comes to their do or die quest for reducing man-made emissions of carbon dioxide gas.

To be sure it’s an attack on the reliable and affordable energy systems that have delivered peace and prosperity for a century or more.

Developed Western nations are in a race to enshrine net-zero targets – the only quibble seems to be whether the target date is 2030 or 2050 – with the only way of avoiding ultimate economic annihilation being a rapid move to nuclear power generation.

Nuclear power generation is the only stand-alone power generation system that does not generate carbon dioxide gas emissions, during the process. And, unlike the pathetically unreliable performance of wind and solar, nuclear delivers 24 x 365, whatever the weather.

Britain is just one example of a country that appears to have crossed the net-zero Rubicon. Notwithstanding their cost and unreliability, wind and, to a lesser extent, solar are at the heart of Britain’s move to reduce CO2 emissions in the power generation sector.

In their recent paper – The Workable Alternative to Net Zero: A plan for cleaner, reliable and affordable energy – Dr John Constable and Capell Aris point out the obvious flaws in any attempt to run a first-world nation on subsidies, sunshine and breezes.

Constable and Aris conclude that the only manner of avoiding a complete wipeout of Britain’s economy is to slash the subsidies to wind and solar; start building nuclear power plants ASAP; and ramp up the capacity of gas-fired power in Britain.

A Workable Alternative to Net Zero
The Global Warming Policy Forum
John Constable and Capell Aris
May 2021

Summary
This paper calls for root and branch reform of the UK’s Net Zero pathway to avoid intolerable cost and societal disruption. The alternative route proposed is a Gas to Gas-Nuclear programme.

As a matter of urgency, electricity generation policy must refocus on dispatchable low-emissions plant, which can deliver a secure and competitive electricity system as an enabler for the UK’s manufacturing industries.

The resulting lower electricity prices will facilitate some limited electrification of domestic and commercial heating and mobility, with potential for longer-term decarbonisation in transport and heating to be investigated via a medium-term nuclear programme, including the generation of hydrogen from high temperature reactors via the thermal decomposition of water.

The action points for reform are:

  • Remove market distortions and reduce consumer cost without delay, by buying back all subsidy contracts to renewables at a discount, compelling them to operate as pure merchant plant, and institute a rolling program for closure of the wind and solar fleets to reduce system operation costs.
  • License rapid construction of high-efficiency combined cycle gas turbines, perhaps fitted with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) if this proves economic. A variety of new approaches to gas turbines – for example, Allam cycle turbines may soon deliver zero-carbon electricity much less expensively.
  • Use low-cost government debt to finance a new generation of nuclear plant, ideally of smaller scale than those currently envisaged.
  • While reduced electricity costs will encourage adoption of heat pumps and electric vehicles where economic, the government should investigate the use of high-temperature nuclear reactors to generate hydrogen to provide an alternative option, seeking close co-operation with the Government of Japan, which is already steering in this direction.

Current UK policies will struggle to deliver Net Zero by 2050, if ever, and run a high risk of deep and irreversible societal damage.

Because of the harms already inflicted, the programme outlined here cannot meet the government’s timetable either, but it will reduce emissions rapidly and sustainably without destabilising British society, leaving the option for further emissions reductions as technological development makes this feasible and economically attractive.

It therefore represents a realistic rather than a utopian decarbonisation model.

On the other hand, failure to reform along these lines will result in extreme costs, painful reductions in living standards for all but the richest, national weakness, societal instability and the eventual failure of the decarbonisation effort. The UK’s hoped for climate leadership will become only a stern deterrent.


The Global Warming Policy Forum

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June 7, 2021