Though this article from Expatica is more than a year old, I'm sharing it with you because it presents the dillema that many European nations with aging nuclear reactors are facing: How to meet their Kyoto targets while phasing out nuclear energy and still keeping the lights on:
Currently, nuclear energy remains the number one source of electricity in Belgium, amounting to 70 percent of production. That will fall to 52 percent of domestic electricity production in five years time.Am I the only person shaking my head as I read this? While I topped out at Introduction to Calculus as a high school senior, you don't need advanced math skills to figure out that if Belgium phases out all of its nuclear capacity that renewables alone can't fill the gap -- a leap the author doesn't seem to be able to make.
But due to the fact that electricity only amounts to 16 percent of total energy use, nuclear-powered electricity amounts to 9 percent of use in Belgium.
Oil and other fossil fuels account for 90 percent of Belgian energy use, while renewable energy — such as wind, solar, biofuels etc — accounts for 1 percent.
Renewable energy use will only increase to 3.7 percent — or at most 5 percent — in 25 years time, because it remains expensive to produce.
The Belgium government intends to abandon nuclear energy from 2015 and in the 10 years after that, the nation's seven nuclear reactors will need to shut down.
Even better, we also get the meaningless statistic that's being repeated over and over again: While nuclear provides (insert percentage of electricity) it only provides a small fraction of total energy use -- as if you could replace all of the nuclear generating capacity with fossil fired capacity with a snap of your fingers and without suffering any ill effects in electricity prices or air quality.
Instead of looking at Belgium's current energy mix as a blessing, and an incredible boon toward meeting their Kyoto targets, this piece was titled, "Belgium's Nuclear Addiction". Perhaps Belgium's real addiction is to faulty reasoning.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Energy, Technology, Environment, Electricity, Belgium