Final Seminar: Nuclear Energy Histories and Futures
The fourth and final seminar in the series took place on 2nd December 2010, in the Council Chamber in Main College at Cardiff University. In this seminar we examined themes relating to sustainability and the trajectories of nuclear energy.
Professor Nick Pidgeon's talk focussed on the changing landscape of public beliefs around nuclear energy and discussed the intersection between public views and policy framings. In his talk he drew on both qualitative and quantitative data to highlight the significant variations in public views on nuclear energy. He spoke about recent trends toward greater acceptability but pointed to the complexity of public views on nuclear referring to 'reluctant acceptance' as an important concept in understanding contemporary acceptability. In concluding, he emphasised the fragile and contingent nature of anything that might be considered public acceptance of nuclear energy (click here to download a copy of his presentation).
Ian Welsh spoke about nuclear and wider energy futures in the context of discourses of sustainability, resilience and climate change. He raised questions about how transitions to sustainable energy systems can be acheived in timescales considered appropriate, in particular emphasising multiple issues for nuclear new build, for example related to reactor design and workforce cultures. He concluded his talk pointing to the significant question marks that hang over the role of nuclear new build in sustainable energy system transitions (click here to download a copy of his presentation).
The discussion that followed addressed a number of different themes including:
- what the underlying reasons might be for the shifting patterns of decline and resurgence in the nuclear energy sector
- the historical lessons that might be learnt from the nuclear story to inform future innovations in energy systems
- the trade offs inherent in energy system transitions
- the nature of private capital investment and its role in sustainable energy system transitions
- and the historical basis for public concern and opposition to nuclear energy
Click here to download a summary of the discussion.
A final report summarising the major themes that have featured in the seminar series will be posted to the blog in the early part of 2011.