Jason Ribeiro at Pro-Nuclear Democrats wrote an excellent, fact-based piece on why President Obama should have included nuclear energy in his not-the-State-of-the-Union speech last night. As well, Ribeiro includes some data Obama needs to see that explains the limitations of several of his proposed "innovations" on energy:
The important thing to understand about this graph is the line on top is hydro energy. Wind generation would have to increase at least 5 times to start to reach the output of hydro. But with a 25% or less capacity factor we also know that such an expansion of wind power requires a 4x build redundancy for a given output, so the actual build out expansion would be over 20x for wind to approach hydro. Thus, doubling from what it is today won't do much at all. In addition, adding the needed power transmission lines to and from windy areas to population centers will cost a bundle. The lower green line is solar, but since it has a lower capacity factor and output than wind energy it might have to increase some 500x just to equal the current output of wind energy.Well said! Be sure to check out the rest of Ribeiro's piece.
Comparing all the energy sources in a chart, we can see the gargantuan growth the renewables sector would have to do to replace fossil fuels. In this chart, the whole renewables sector, the light green line, scrapes near the bottom. Nuclear is the blue line that was only recently overtaken by natural gas, the green line. Upgrades at nuclear plants have kept its market share at what it is even though no new plants have come online in years. Instead of having to multiply by factors of hundreds, thousands really, nuclear can reach the output of coal by increasing 2.77 times taking into account a 90% capacity factor.