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

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…