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

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…