Skip to main content

Our Question for UCS: Why not charge your car with nuclear-generated electricity?

Yesterday the Union of Concerned Scientists published a new study about how using electric vehicles could help the U.S. cut fuel costs and reduce emissions. When auto companies begin manufacturing electric vehicles in larger numbers, the nation's 104 nuclear reactors (and counting) will be standing by to supply that zero emission electricity that UCS loves so much.

Unfortunately, the press team at UCS apparently forgot how to spell the word nuclear (I know you're shocked) when they put together their report. From the press release:
[T]o fully realize the benefits of EVs will require changing not just the kind of vehicles people drive, but also the power that drives them. Electric drive vehicles can be zero emission today, when powered by renewables like solar and wind. But it will take continued steps to ramp down coal and ramp up renewables so that every region can enjoy clean energy and the best benefits EVs have to offer.
Given that wind and solar only generated about 3% of U.S. electricity in 2011, we've got a long way to go before those two sources produce enough juice to contribute a significant portion of normal U.S. demand, never mind being able to provide electricity for millions of vehicles. Right now, when it comes to zero emissions electricity, nuclear is the only source of baseload power that's available.

The New York Times produced its own map as a companion to their story on the study. I've posted a portion of the map below. Take a good look the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


According to the key, an electric vehicle driven in Montpelier, Concord, Boston or Hartford all clock in at an impressive 67 mpg. And in New York City, the figure is 74 mpg. Buffalo* clocks in at an amazing 86 mpg. What do these cities have in common? They're all on a regional electric grid that's served extensively by nuclear power plants.

In contrast, take a look at the figure for Hempstead, a town on Long Island just a few miles outside New York City. The figure there is a comparitively unimpressive 39 mpg. Why is that figure so low for a town that's only a short drive from New York City? It's because a good portion of New York City's electricity comes from Indian Point Energy Center, home to a pair of nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, the only nuclear reactor ever built on Long Island, Shoreham, was decommissioned in the 1980s before it could ever supply electricity to the grid.

The bottom line here: UCS neglecting to mention nuclear energy in the press materials for this report was one heck of an oversight. It's almost as if they didn't want anyone to know that nuclear energy was emission free. But don't forget, UCS says they aren't anti-nuclear, right?

*We should note that Buffalo gets lots of power from hydroelectric too.

Comments

jimwg said…
Well, your electro-car's only as clean as the juice it gulps!

---

RE: "The bottom line here: UCS NEGLECTING to mention nuclear energy in the press materials for this report was one heck of an OVERSIGHT."

Almost got a hernia from doubling over LOL'ing at that!

Re: "It's almost as if they (UCS) didn't want anyone to know that nuclear energy was emission free. But don't forget, UCS says they aren't anti-nuclear, right?"

Mmm. What that cozy bunch of media darlings needs (at least!) is a good hard YouTube-grabbing open-letter challenge to that assertion!

James Greenidge
Queens, NY
Anonymous said…
Electricity Source
EV Global Warming
Emissions in Gasoline Miles
per Gallon Equivalent
(mpgghg)
Coal 30
Oil 32
Natural Gas 54
Solar 500
Nuclear 2,000
Wind 3,900
Hydro 5,800
Geothermal 7,600

On page 9 of the UCS report:
http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

Nuclear provdied 2,000 mpg comparison ~40 times better than NG.
Anonymous said…
The State of Vermont has the highest share of electricity generated by nuclear (73.3% in 2010). Vermont also has the lowest CO2 emissions per capita from electricity generation (0.71 tons per person).

http://www.e3network.org/papers/NRDC_state_emissions_report.pdf

http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/documents/CO2Report_2011RJD21811final.pdf

http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/reliableandaffordableenergy/graphicsandcharts/stateelectricitygenerationfuelshares/
Bill said…
How about giving the NYTimes' Paul Stenquist some credit, for going beyond the UCS's press release:

"... in areas where the electric utility relies on natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric or renewable sources to power its generators, ..."
"... In areas where the cleanest electricity is available — regions served by hydroelectric, natural gas or nuclear generating plants —"
"... On the other hand, electrics and plug-ins will become cleaner without technology changes as coal-burning power plants are replaced with natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind or solar facilities."
trag said…
Two or three years ago (certainly within the last five) NPR foolishly used a UCS representative as it's "neutral" expert in a story about energy production and global warming.

When the journalist asked the UCS rep. about nuclear electricity generation, the UCS representative declared, "Nuclear winter is not the answer to global warming."

Clear proof, from UCS's own authorized mouth-piece, that they're a bunch of liars.

I don't have time to hunt through the transcripts (nor know if they're still on line) but the story was in the evening when I was driving home, so given the schedule, it was probably either on "Marketplace" or "The World".

If someone else would hunt it down, I think it would make great ammunition.

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…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …