Last week, Debating Europe (along with our partner think-tank Friends of Europe) held a live event on the future of nuclear energy in Europe. The event took the form of a head-to-head debate between Dr. Patrick Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace and Co-Chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, and Jo Leinen MEP, Member and former Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment. You can view the highlights of the event online here, or watch the full video here.
We had plenty of questions sent into us online, and put some of them to our panelists for their reactions. For example, Bogdan asked why cold fusion wasn’t attracting more funding:
Jo Leinen’s response was that those who support nuclear have a vision of a highly centralised energy grid, whereas those who go for solar and other renewables have an alternative vision of a more de-centralised approach. Fusion energy, for Jo Leinen, is probably the most centralised approach of them all. Leinen argues that the EU will probably continue to fund research into fusion, because it’s “hard to pull out”, but that he wouldn’t like to wait until 2050 to see if it is successful. He argues that Europe already has all the technology it needs to start combatting climate change today.
Patrick Moore’s response was highly critical. He argued that it’s:
Wonderful to say I have a green vision of a beautiful future with energy efficiency and renewables, but if the renewables are going to break the bank… it is a road to financial ruin.
We also had a question from Bruno Comby, President of the Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy group. Bruno asked whether it wasn’t “already too late” because of the “energy gap”.
To which Jo Leinen replied that there will be some nuclear plants built, even after Fukushima, but the danger is rather about being “locked in” to the wrong technologies when a new round of investment is made. Leinen argued that, if you think about the progress that has already been made in renewable technologies, then he is sure that further breakthroughs can be made.
Thank you to everyone who sent in questions and comments before and after the debate! We have follow-up interviews scheduled with both participants, so we’ll have a chance to get some more reactions to your ideas from the panelists.