Nuclear future or not, Britain needs to produce good scientists for energy solutions

08 January 2008

Action to fund energy-related science, nuclear or otherwise, is required urgently, says the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Government is expected to announce, on Thursday, its decision on the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations. 

Whatever the outcome, the Government must continue to encourage, nevertheless, research and development of non-nuclear, renewable energy, says the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Society's chief executive, Dr Richard Pike, said today: "Whichever path the UK takes to find its future energy it has to provide the scientists to work in those industries, whether they are nuclear-based or otherwise, such as in solar power, biofuels, wind or tidal.

"Nuclear power, even if the Government had spurned it as the main future source, is still a reality to be dealt with, because we have nuclear power stations that will have to be decommissioned during the forthcoming decades. 

"Therefore, the UK must maintain a high level of science teaching and research, in order to perform those critical decommissioning tasks and to deal with what is known as legacy waste."

Dr Pike added: "Our message to the Government is simple: future nuclear power or not, if we fail to provide sufficient numbers of qualified scientists, the country will risk losing its way in providing energy for the future; also it will fail to handle properly the nuclear materials left from our past and present nuclear industries.

"In being able to generate its past nuclear power, Britain has had to tolerate a time of waste - now we cannot waste time."

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