The Petroc Energy Debate on ‘Fracking, Nuclear and/or Renewables’ took place at the Brannams Campus in Barnstaple on Thursday 26th November 2015. Our panel for the evening were:
- Georg van den Berg, a renewable energy developer based in North Devon
- Peter Smith, a former section heat at Hinkley Point nuclear power station and now an anti-nuclear campaigner
- Mike Hilson, a Chartered Engineer and former President of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers
- Dr Phillip Bratby, who formerly worked in the Nuclear Industry and is now the energy spokesman for CPRE Devon
- Dr Chris Cornford, a Petroleum Geochemist consultant based in Bideford, but working around the world
The debate was chaired by Myc Riggulsford, an independent science journalist and broadcaster who has also chaired debates at the Science Museum in London.
Nearly 50 people booked to attend the debate and others also came along who had not booked tickets. Although the focus for the evening was on fracking, nuclear and renewables, the topics discussed were broader and included issues like the Green Deal and insulation and also Climate Change. A concern about renewable energy was that it could lead to grid instability, but it was proposed that advances in battery storage would enable frequency stability and supply of electricity when generation was lower. A concern with wind power was the effect on bats and birds. It was however pointed out that more birds are killed by cars and buildings. Also thermal power plants like Nuclear stations have an environmental impact due to the requirement of large amounts of cooling water, with aquatic life trapped at the water intake.
Overall the audience enjoyed the event and many were disappointed it did not go on longer. There may be another debate on a different energy related topic in the near future.