To generate electricity for a city of 1 million people for 1 year:___Mine 3,200,000 tonnes of coal - emit 8,500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and particulates - landfill 900,000 cubic metres of toxic/radioactive fly-ash.___OR___Mine 50,000 tonnes of uranium ore - emit no greenhouse gases - produce 24 tonnes of radiotoxic 'waste'.___OR___Mine 50 tonnes of equivalent thorium ore - emit no greenhouse gases - produce 0.8 tonnes of radiotoxic 'waste'.
A year ago at the DECC, these were your very words and to do this, you are taking a predictable route of giving everybody in the mix a little bit, but inordinately pouring money into the populist option of renewables. This will divert much needed investment away from the NHS and other essential services.
May I propose ‘Plan B’, to take you into realms of ‘greenness’ about which you can only dream, meet our carbon targets ahead of time, take a huge chunk out of our £14 billion or so energy trade deficit and maximize energy independence.
You will not know of the capacity of this home-based resource, but you will be able to raise a green banner behind which every environmentalist can get. Not one extra square inch of our precious land need be sacrificed in accessing this fuel which can provide all of the UK’s electricity needs for the next 50 years and, it will be free of greenhouse gas emissions.
This resource is the lifeless, environmental abomination of fly-ash, with an average thorium content of 17 parts per million. Mining 60,000 tonnes of fly-ash yields 1 tonne of thorium, which can supply 1 GWyear of electricity; this is enough for all the electrical needs of a city of 1 million people for 1 year. Preposterous as it seems, 3,200,000 tonnes of coal have to be imported (£80 million) to supply the same amount of electricity, which means that the energy from fly-ash thorium yields 50 times more energy than the original coal burned.
You will need to spend a piddling £300 million on the first-of-a-kind 100 MWe Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR), which can be available in 5 years and factory produced units rolling off production lines in 10 years. Unlike PWRs (the UK’s new-build nuclear), LFTRs have extraordinary intrinsic, passive safety characteristics, making them capable of surviving a Fukushima level incident unscathed.
Extraordinary courage is needed to do something so revolutionary and such thoughts are likely to be kept away from you. However, I do hope your ‘knowledge filterers’ let you have a look at this data, for no other reason than it being an eye-opening ‘thought for the day’.