News that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a "measured exit" from nuclear power in response to the crisis affecting four reactors in Japan should be welcomed. She defended the temporary closure of Germany's seven oldest reactors, saying sensibly that because of the Japanese disaster it could no longer be "business as usual". Chancellor Merkel told the German parliament that the goal was "to reach the age of renewable energy as soon as possible".
Likewise, China has now suspended approval for new nuclear power stations following the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant. checks at existing reactors and those under construction will also be carried out. China, which has a desperate need for energy is currently building 27 new reactors - this is about 40% of the total number being built around the world. China is increasingly worried about the nuclear accident in Japan.
We don't need Nuclear power and should invest in sustainable renewable energy sources, which in the event of disaster are significantly less dangerous. We also have a pressing need for energy. Our problem was made worse by the Conservatives headlong dash to gas in the 1980’s which has in turn been compounded by a real failure in basic strategic energy planning and made worse by the current Government's perverse decision to half-heartedly look at developing diverse reliable alternative energy sources.
The old New Labour Government repeatedly ignored warnings that it was setting the UK on a path towards higher prices and energy blackouts. Over the next five years almost all of our old nuclear reactors, along with nine major coal and oil-fired power stations, will be closed, with nothing ready to replace them. We are now in the situation where we are now even more dependent upon imported gas from either unstable regions or dubious suppliers and we the customers face unnecessarily expensive bills.
As a matter of utmost urgency the Westminster Government, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly should work with the Irish Government to make these islands entirely self sufficient via renewable non market driven non nuclear energy resources rather than pursing the dubious and costly (potentially in more ways than one) nuclear alternative that is particularly favoured by Whitehall civil servants.
The renewable energy sector can and should play a major role in creating more sustainable green energy jobs in Wales and elsewhere in the UK. If we can develop a flexible self-sufficient energy development strategy that actually encourages decentralised microgeneration schemes and then actually implement it then we have a fighting chance of creating jobs, useful new skills and will be able to bootstrap the economy out of the recession, as helping consumers and securing a stable safe energy supply.
If we do this then we will keep the lights on and rebuild and reboot our economy as well.