Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dealing With Global Warming Without Nuclear Power

Jan 24: Greenpeace USA joined with other climate and energy advocates and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), to release what they are calling "a landmark analysis" showing that the United States can address global warming, without relying on nuclear power or so-called “clean coal” as President Bush proposed in his State of the Union Address [See WIMS 1/24/07]. John Coequyt, energy policy analyst with the Greenpeace Global Warming Campaign said, “This blueprint not only shows us what needs to be done to address global warming, but how to do it using existing technologies. America can deal with global warming without nuclear power, which is inherently dangerous. We can do it without enshrining another century of dependence on coal -- which is only ‘clean’ if you ignore the tremendous environmental devastation caused by coal mining. The fact is we can have our cake and eat it, too.”

According to the report, which details a worldwide energy scenario -- in the United States, nearly 80% of electricity can be produced by renewable energy sources; carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced 50% globally and 72% in the U.S. without resorting to an increase in dangerous nuclear power or new coal technologies; and, America’s oil use can be cut over 50% by 2050 with much more efficient cars and trucks, potentially including new plug-in hybrids, increased use of biofuels, and greater reliance on electricity for transportation.

The study, Energy [R]evolution -- A Blueprint for Solving Global Warming, commissioned from the internationally-respected German Aerospace Centre, shows that significantly increasing renewable energy and efficiency improvements alone can solve the global warming problem. Greenpeace said it is the first study to fulfill the promise of Princeton Professors Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow’s “wedge” framework, by presenting an alternative scenario for reaching greenhouse gas stabilization.

Access a release and link to a webcast of the press conference (
click here). Access the complete 92-page report (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]


GerryWolff said...

Regarding "Dealing With Global Warming Without Nuclear Power" (2007-01-25), there really is no no need for nuclear power in the US because there is a simple mature technology available that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, these are not always nearby! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may be transmitted to anywhere in the US. CSP plants in the south western states of the US could easily meet the entire current US demand for electricity.

In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

Further information about CSP may be found at and . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at .

RobC said...

I downloaded the report by Greenpeace called Energy (R)evolution, all 7 megabytes, to see that it’s the same material Greenpeace has been promoting for as long as I can remember. Mostly it’s background information. The substantial part consists only of unsupported conclusions, in two parts: (a) anti-nuclear propaganda that ignores the analyses done by unbiased scientists and (b) promises of magic silver bullets that will solve our energy problems.

At least 30 years ago anti-nuclear activists were saying the same things. The result is that the US has continued using fossil fuels with the assurance that they were safer than those awful nuclear plants and the fossil-fired plants would be dismantled as soon as one of the silver bullets came through.

None of the silver bullets came through. We still don’t have any way to store energy except through existing hydroelectric dams. Ethanol is a boondoggle aimed at enriching corn farmers through subsidies. Photovoltaics aren’t close to being economical, and solar thermal is only a little closer. Wind power is only used because state legislatures require utilities to use it. Fusion is no closer than it was 30 years ago. There’s still no energy-efficient way to produce hydrogen, and no practical, portable way to store it. To date, no one has demonstrated a carbon-sequestration scheme that can be expected to contain most of the CO2 pumped into it.

Greenpeace’s reference scenario even requires an increase in the use of natural gas.

Look at it this way: if a silver bullet proved itself ten years from today, transitioning all the energy systems over to it would take decades. Any electric plants operating or under construction then would only close down when they wore out. None would be closed down early just because they weren’t needed. So the question is, should new plants be coal-fired or nuclear? With coal burners killing tens of thousands per year just in this country, it’s a no-brainer.