Skip to main content

Is Renewable Energy Wrecking the Environment?

Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University seems to think so:
Writ­ing in a schol­arly jour­nal, Jes­se Au­subel, di­rec­tor of the un­ivers­ity’s Pro­gram for the Hu­man En­vi­ron­ment, has now is­sued a scath­ing re­as­sess­ment of the “re­new­able” en­er­gy sources that are sup­posed to save hu­man­ity from pol­lu­tion and glob­al warm­ing.

The cli­mate change is be­lieved to be caused by emis­sions of heat-trapping gas­es from use of tra­di­tional en­er­gy sources.

Meet­ing glob­al en­er­gy de­mands through so-called re­new­able sources—build­ing enough wind farms, dam­ming enough riv­ers, and grow­ing enough bi­o­mass—will wreck the en­vi­ron­ment, Au­su­bel ar­gues. Bi­o­mass con­sists of plants and an­i­mal wastes used as fu­el.

The so­lu­tion? “If we want to min­i­mize new struc­tures and the rape of na­ture, nu­clear en­er­gy is the best op­tion,” Au­su­bel said.
I can hear the howls already.

This story has been impacting all over the Web in a big way all day long. There's a hot discussion over at reddit, and the piece has been picked up by both Instapundit and FuturePundit.

Here are some sources that demonstrate what Ausubel is talking about:

Land Needed by Wind or Solar Energy to Match Annual Nuclear Energy Production InfoGraphic (2006)
U.S. Capacity Factors by Fuel Type (2006)
U.S. Nuclear Industry Capacity Factors (1971 - 2006)
Cumulative Capacity Additions at U.S. Nuclear Facilities (1977 - 2011)
U.S. Nuclear Expected Power Uprates

One of the canards that anti-nuclear advocates like to trot out is to ask just how many nuclear reactors we would have to build in order to generate all of America's electricity. This study is their comeuppance.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Who paid for the research in this journal article?
Ian said…
http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=14671&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or

Has anyone "liberated" a PDF yet?
Luke said…
It doesn't matter one bit who supported the research, or what industry ties or whatever they may or may not have.

Scientific research either stands up to peer review, or it doesn't.
Johan Simu said…
a pdf can be found at Jesse H. Ausubel homepage where he lists his publications
http://phe.rockefeller.edu/biblio.php
Ian said…
thanks simu, I visited one of his publication pages on his personal site, but it had not been updated since 2004.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…