Over the past few years, the Energy Information Administration has been asked by many members of Congress to model the effects of their proposed climate legislation on the US. The latest request released yesterday was from Senators Lieberman and Warner:
This report responds to a request from Senators Lieberman and Warner for an analysis of S. 2191, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 and a subsequent analysis request from Senators Barasso, Inhofe, and Voinovich.Here is the CO2 emissions reduction targets in the Lieberman-Warner bill:
The Title I caps decline gradually from 5,775 million metric tons (mmt) CO2-equivalent in 2012 (7 percent below 2006 emission levels), to 3,860 mmt in 2030 (39 percent below 2006 levels), and 1,732 mmt in 2050 (72 percent below 2006 levels).When EIA conducts these requested analyses, they develop several different scenarios "to analyze some of the key areas of uncertainty that impact the analysis results." Here's the description of the main scenario:
The S. 2191 Core Case represents an environment where key low-emissions technologies, including nuclear, fossil with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and various renewables, are developed and deployed in a timeframe consistent with the emissions reduction requirements without encountering any major obstacles, even with rapidly growing use on a very large scale, and the use of offsets, both domestic and international, is not significantly limited by cost or regulation.What role does nuclear energy play in this scenario? Drum-roll please ............ by 2030, nuclear energy accounts for 62 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S.!!! The core case assumes that 268 giga-watts of new nuclear come online by 2030. The average new nuclear plant size is about 1,400 MW which means that 268 GW equals 190-200 new nuclear plants. Wow!
Most would say that building 200 new nuclear plants by 2030 couldn't happen and they're probably right. 2040 is a more realistic year to have 200 new nuclear plants operating in the U.S. Regardless, EIA's analysis of the bill should tell people that nuclear energy has a significant role to play if the country is to continue to consume electricity while reducing emissions.