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Potential Energy – fuelling the nuclear energy debate


With the threat of climate change and decreasing supplies of fossil fuels, the UK is going to have to find new ways to fuel our future to avoid an energy crisis. But with so much information out there, how can ordinary people find out more about what options there are? To help tackle this, the Institute of Physics today launches Potential Energy, a web log where three journalists will investigate the science of nuclear new-build for ten weeks.

The government white paper on the future possibilities for the UK energy supply did not rule out building new nuclear power stations as a potential future energy source for the UK. It is vital that the public are well-informed about the scientific issues surrounding nuclear new-build and can join in the energy debate.

The journalists who will be posting on the site are Gia Milinovich, a science and technology broadcaster; Caspar Henderson, a freelance writer concerned with environment, energy and human rights; and Kat Arney, a former scientific researcher who now works in the public relations department of a cancer charity.

For the next ten weeks they will be researching the issues, talking to experts, attending seminars and, where necessary, visiting facilities. They will update the blog every week with their findings. Visitors to the site will be encouraged to get involved by posting comments on each blog entry and to voice their own views on nuclear energy, so a lively debate is expected.

Caitlin Watson, physics in society manager at the Institute, said “We’ve asked the writers not to shy away from areas where science comes into the debate, such as concerns over the management of nuclear waste. They’ll be sifting through all the opposing arguments for and against nuclear power, so that what you get to read on the blog are well-considered opinions not prejudiced knee jerk reactions or spin. They’ve all pledged to approach the issues with an open mind but they won’t be afraid to say what they think once they’ve explored all the angles.”

Gia, an experienced ‘blogger’ said “I was very excited to be asked to take part in the Potential Energy project not only because of the intriguing subject matter, but because blogs are the ideal way to carry on large scale public discussions. Everyone has an opinion about nuclear power and our blog has the potential to be the source of some very heated, yet informative debate.

“My own opinion about nuclear power has oscillated over the years - sometimes for, sometimes against – usually with what is said in the press. This project gives me the opportunity to look past the spin to try and find the truth.”

Caitlin went on to say “The government will soon be making decisions about the future of the UK’s energy supply that will affect everyone. We hope that people coming to the site will benefit from the journalists’ investigations when forming or clarifying their own opinions. The site will then give them the opportunity to take part in some robust, but informed, debate by commenting on the journalists’ conclusions.”

Helen MacBain | alfa
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