Nuclear power is not going to go away as a topic for discussion. Whatever decisions are made, and it looks increasingly likely that the government will plump for building more nuclear power stations, we are going to be arguing the pros and cons for years to come. One issue that has been largely ignored is the design of the potential power stations. In a crowded island, chock full of Nimbys, research unsurprisingly shows that even those who favour a resurgence of nuclear power don't want the stations built near them.
Architecture hasn't helped. Although some nuclear power stations have a certain dated heroic grandeur, they do not make a reassuring statement in the current nervous age.
And it is not only nuclear power that causes aesthetic problems. Much of the resistance to widespread use of wind power comes from a feeling that turbines are ugly. The design profession has had a mixed response to this.
On the one hand, one of the earliest proposals of Ken Shuttleworth's practice Make was for a more stylish and effective wind turbine. On the other, a reader brought to our attention a proposal for a 'concealed' wind turbine within the roof space of a house (www. hiddenwindpower.co. uk), an attempt to sidestep the opprobrium that this method of generation is attracting.
Nor is solar power immune. Manufacturers of elements such as roofs are increasingly finding ways to incorporate photovoltaic (PV) panels so that they don't look like expensive afterthoughts, and there is an increasing variety available. But now that photovoltaic prices are falling, it can only be a matter of time until complaints start appearing about the 'visual pollution' caused by the growing numbers of PV panels.
There are issues for debate on the quantity and type of energy that we consume. Architects and manufacturers can enhance the discussions by coming up with solutions that at least make arguments about appearance irrelevant.