Skip to main content

The Economist Hosts a Debate on the "Global Energy Crisis"

I don't know about calling it a crisis but over the next ten days, The Economist will be hosting a debate on whether "we can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations.” Anyone can sign up and leave comments. Rod Adams and Charles Barton have already shared some of their thoughts.

Comments

Bill said…
I'm not sure if it counts as an endorsement, but Romm's article includes
"Nuclear: 700 new gigawatt-sized plants (plus 300 replacement plants)"
on his menu.
Luke said…
Well, Romm's article poses a long list of different options, each of which is purported to represent one greenhouse gas mitigation "wedge":


* Concentrated solar thermal electric: 1,600 gigawatts peak power.

Solar thermal, with a capacity factor of around 30 percent, and a nameplate capacity of 1600 GW, will generate 4.2 million GWh per year.

* Nuclear: 700 new gigawatt-sized plants (plus 300 replacement plants).

1000 one-gigawatt nuclear power plants, with a capacity factor of 90%, will generate 7.9 million GWh per year.

* Coal: 800 gigawatt-sized plants with all the carbon captured and permanently sequestered.

800 one-gigawatt coal plants, with a capacity factor of say around 80%, will generate 5.6 million GWh per year.

* Solar photovoltaics: 3,000 gigawatts peak power.

3000 GW of nameplate capacity of solar photovoltaics, with a capacity factor of say 25%, will generate 6.6 million GWh per year.

* Efficient buildings: savings totalling 5 million gigawatt-hours.

That last one is 5 million GWh per
year, obviously.


So, to recap:

Solar Thermal: 4.2 PWh per year.
Efficiency: 5 PWh
"Clean Coal": 5.6 PWh
Photovoltaics: 6.6 PWh
Nuclear: 7.9 PWh


So, why aren't all the different technologies that could act as "wedges" measured in terms of wedges of the same size? Why is 7.9 PWh of nuclear energy compared to 4.2 PWh of solar thermal, as being equal?

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…