Musician questions the practicality of renewable resources as he calls for a major rethink on issue
U2’s The Edge — Killiney, Co Dublin, resident David Evans — says that countries need to consider adopting next generation nuclear power in order to meet their climate change targets.
Speaking on Wednesday on a panel for Dublin investment firm VentureWave Capital, Evans said: “We need to think very deeply about whether our current strategy of renewable energy is going to make it. We’ve got to be prepared to rethink certain things.”
While he didn’t refer specifically to Ireland, he added: “We have to open our minds to third generation nuclear energy being a possible solution.
“The amount of impact on our land in terms of solar photovoltaic cells and windmills, it’s such a huge amount of ground that you have to dedicate to these renewable resources, is it really practical?”
A spokeswoman for Evans said he would not be commenting further on his statement.
Last December, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said he “had not ruled out” the possibility of nuclear power being used in Ireland. However, on March 31, he said in a written Dáil answer to TD James Lawless: “Nuclear power plants are prohibited in Ireland. Whilst some research notes nuclear power as a potential technology that should be considered, the Government has no plans to revisit the prohibition on, or to explore the development of nuclear powered electricity generation in Ireland.”
Describing himself as “an eternal optimist”, and echoing a term used by Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg in 2019, guitarist and songwriter Evans said that climate change needs “cathedral thinking” by politicians.
“Everybody thinks in terms of their election cycle, and everyone’s looking for a result now. We all have the power with our votes to empower politicians to engage in much longer term thinking. Cathedral thinking is really the way to describe it.
“We’ve got to encourage existing industries with a bad reputation to change, so we don’t make the good the enemy of the perfect.”
Ireland’s Climate Action Bill, which was published last month, commits the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050. To date we’ve performed poorly on our CO2 targets, reporting the third-highest emissions per capita in the EU in 2018.
Evans and U2 bassist Adam Clayton are among the investors in VentureWave Capital’s €100m Impact Ireland investment fund, as are actor Liam Neeson, and Lily O’Brien’s chocolates founder Mary Ann O’Brien.
Irish-American Anne Finucane, vice-chair of Bank of America, told VentureWave’s event that her bank had committed to invest at least $1tn in climate finance activities over the next decade.
18for0, a nuclear power advocacy group co-founded by UCD graduate engineer Sarah Cullen, claims that having 18pc of electricity generated here using new generation small modular reactor nuclear power stations by 2033 would save €8bn in electricity costs and 36 million tonnes of CO2 between 2030 and 2050.
Her co-founder, engineer Allan Carson, said: “It’s great that The Edge sees the benefits of nuclear power. The government should provide a credible plan to reach net zero, with an independent assessment of all low-carbon forms of electricity production, including nuclear power.
“The climate emergency is a greater challenge than anything we have faced to date, including the pandemic, and will require every tool we have at our disposal.”
One next generation nuclear power firm, Moltex Energy, headed by Trinity College graduate engineer Rory O’Sullivan, received $50m in funding last month from the Canadian government, and is also backed by a division of the US government.