One of the common claims that anti-nukes like to make about nuclear energy is that it can't be expanded quickly enough to have an impact on constraining greenhouse gas emissions. One person who doesn't believe that claim is David Barnett. From the Canberra Times:
Alternative energy can only be peripheral. We do not face up to our real choice because the Greens are watermelon green on the outside and deep Trotskyite red on the inside. Their prime concern is the evil of capitalism, and they command the media.For proof of the claim that alternative or renewable energy can only be peripheral, click here for the latest DKos diary from NNadir. I've added boldface to the appropriate figures
Let's do the numbers.Interesting, don't you think? Thanks to Advanced Nanotechnology and Nuclear Australia for the pointers.
Here are the forms of primary energy that are not fossil fuel based available and tested and therefore measurable. In parentheses I am going to put a date off the top of my head indicating when that form of non-fossil fuel energy provided energy to the grid, if I know it.
Solar electricity (1955).
Biofuels/trash/waste burning (Early in 20th century - wood).
Geothermal (1913 - Italy)
Nuclear Power (1954 - UK, 1957 - US)
Wind power (1970's - Altamont)
Did I leave anything out?
Here are the statistics, measured in units of energy for everything listed above except nuclear energy from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the period between 1993 and 2007.
Renewable Energy Production in the United States, 1993-2007 (Feb)
Now I am going to take the rate of increase in units of energy, delivered as electrical power per year in the period between 1993 and 2005 (12 years). The units of this calculation will be thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Wood (biomass): 96 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Waste: - 259 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.
Geothermal: - 190 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.
Solar: (Usually everybody's favorite): +8
Wind (Another favorite): 1345 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Overall, renewable energy in the United States has increased at a rate of 1000 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Now let's do nuclear, recognizing at the same time that no new nuclear power plants have been ordered since 1978.
Here is the data for the eleven year period between 1993-2004 (2005 does not show up on this chart):
Nuclear Energy for the whole world, but I'm just using US figures.
Be careful with the units and note that this chart is in BILLIONS of KILOwatt-hours.. Thus you will need to correct with a factor of 1000 to be equivalent to the renewable figures above.
Converting billions of kilowatt hours to thousands of megawatt-hours we see that the nuclear figure is 16,203 thousand megawatt-hours per year for nuclear even without building a new plant. Where did all this energy come from if no new plants were built? Improved operations mostly.