Pressure mounts on Scottish government to oppose Ayrshire nuclear fusion site
THE Scottish government has been criticized for not opposing Westminster’s decision to consider an Ayrshire site for a nuclear fusion power plant.
The announcement last week that Ardeer has been placed on a shortlist of five locations to build a prototype has angered anti-nuclear activists. However, the Scottish government’s response seems to suggest that the plant will be reviewed as part of a review of its energy strategy, which until now has been strongly opposed to any new nuclear power plant.
Existing reactors in Scotland produce energy through fission, which is the process of splitting atoms and creates radioactive waste. Fusion, which creates energy by forcing atoms together, is considered both cleaner and safer, but has so far proven extremely difficult to harness. Even a prototype is expected to incur high construction and operating costs.
A Scottish CND spokesperson expressed disappointment that the Scottish government had not objected to Ardeer being placed on the shortlist.
READ MORE: Prototype nuclear fusion power plant could arrive in Scotland
She told the Sunday National: ‘There is absolutely no reason for the Scottish government to be anything but clear at this time about the insanity of any investment in nuclear fusion.
“This is a completely untested process and will not, even with the best results, be able to help reduce emissions until it is too late. Huge concerns remain about security, the production of nuclear waste and the potential link to the production of nuclear weapons.
“The Scottish Government has no obligation to heed the concerns of the UK Government in creating a workforce with the skills necessary to maintain its weapons program. The Scottish government needs to focus on the renewable energy agenda and invest in the relevant skills. ”
The Scottish Greens, who have reached a power-sharing deal with the Scottish government, also condemned the idea of a fusion power plant as ‘folly’ and called on Westminster to focus on renewables instead.
A party spokesperson said: “It is folly to base our hopes of decarbonizing the energy system on technology that is not yet available.
“The UK government should instead focus on boosting the renewable energy sector while we still have time to tackle the climate crisis.”
The Scottish government said it had “taken note” of the outcome of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) STEP shortlist.
“We know that achieving a net zero economy by 2045 will require significant growth in renewable and clean electricity generation, and work is underway to refresh our energy strategy to reflect this transformation,” said a spokesperson.
“This includes a consideration of the potential contribution that all relevant technologies could make to our future power generation. We will consult on the updated energy strategy in the spring.
He added: “The Scottish government is absolutely clear in its opposition to building new nuclear power plants in Scotland using current technologies. ”
Ardeer’s shortlist was also greeted by SNP North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson.
If the plant goes ahead, the UK government says it will be operational in the early 2040s and could create thousands of jobs.
George Freeman, UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, said: “Fusion energy has the potential to be a truly revolutionary and inexhaustible source of energy that can help us reduce our dependence unreliable fossil fuels and tackling climate change.