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Wind, Nuclear and Playing with Cars

This caused  a mathematical synapse to fire:

Wind energy reduced power sector emissions by more than 5 percent last year, saving the same amount of CO2 as taking 20 million cars off the road, according to a new report.

Well, if you don’t mind your car sputtering to a stop when the wind stops blowing. Okay, that’s not really fair. It’s a question of how many carbon emissions were displaced by wind power and that was 126.8 million tons or the equivalent of about 20 million cars. That’s fairbut consider:

Nuclear energy facilities avoided nearly 590 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013 across the U.S. This is nearly as much carbon dioxide as is released from 113 million cars, which is more than all U.S. passenger cars. The U.S. produces more than five billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

That 113 million car figure seems right enough, but is that (or less, actually) really the number of passengers vehicles in the car crazy U.S? Seems too few.

Ace NEI statistician David Bradish said a fair number of things are excluded, including trucks, buses and other conveyances which might carry different emissions standards and outputs. So this works for that purpose. And impressive, too – we could probably scoop Canada’s cars into the emission-displaced hopper, too, especially if you counted the country’s six reactors.

We’re making fun, but really, good for the wind folks. It is a milestone, wind is emission free and it’s all to the good. The only conclusion to reach is that since nuclear energy has gotten all the cars off the road, let’s let wind have the flatbed trucks.

AWEA’s report is here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Canada has 19 active power reactors in 6 'plants' (Pickering A / B, Bruce A / B, Darlington and Point Lepreau)...
Anonymous said…
The problem is that there are 3 levels of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics. When anyone cites statistics, I always look at who is doing the statisticing. Note that the citer is the AWEA. Of course, they want the best spin on anything they do. Just remember that Al Gore would have made a good chunk of change out of "carbon trading".
trag said…
Did that emissions reduction figure for wind energy simply take the number of KWH4s wind produced and assume that it displaced the same amount of gas or coal generated electricity and then claim credit for the emissions reduction?

If so, it is utterly misleading and flat out wrong.

The back-up generating capacity which is on standby to take up the load when wind falters must also be added to the CO2 emissions of wind. That, in many cases, reduces the so-called CO2 reduction of wind to zero or even negative.
Engineer-Poet said…
As a point of fact, a great many vehicles driven by ordinary citizens as personal transportation are classed as "light trucks" rather than "passenger cars".  The "light truck" category includes minivans, which let them escape the stricter CAFE requirements for passenger cars and helped to popularize them when they were new.  Station wagons remained in the passenger car category, which is why the large station wagon has been replaced by boxier things.

It would be very nice if the whole lot were powered by batteries charged by nuclear power plants, making all the OPEC and CO2 issues moot.
John said…
Anon #2 is right, statistics can rarely be trusted. There are just too many ways they can be fudged or just plain wrong.

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