Energy Policy for the U.S. Power Sector Must Include Stability And Nuclear Power
The marginalization of nuclear power is arguably the most egregious development to come out of environmental organizations that claim to be concerned about climate change. While historical opposition to nuclear power can be attributed to a range of social, political and environmental concerns, current efforts to exclude this zero-carbon resource are a travesty of environmentalism. It’s long past time to allow the U.S. nuclear industry to do its part to help us meet climate and economic objectives. [Full Commentary Here]
Georgia Magazine, a publication of Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, recently published my commentary on U.S. energy policy as it pertains to the U.S. power sector. Our efforts to address economic and climate issues at the U.S. and global levels will be greatly improved by incorporating stability in our energy policy but will be impossible without nuclear power.
How Can Someone Who is Concerned About Carbon Emissions and the Potential Impacts of Climate Change Be Opposed to EPA’s Clean Power Plan?
[A version of this post entitled, “U.S. Missing the Mark on Climate Policy” was published in GeorgiaPol as a guest Op-Ed]
The old expression, “Every little bit helps”, doesn’t hold true for global CO2 emissions if the little bit that helps in one country doesn’t translate and scale up to something systemic and impactful in emerging economies throughout the world where billions live in energy poverty and more energy is needed, not less. EPA’s Clean Power Plan is such an example as it gives the appearance of commitment to addressing climate change issues, yet will have little-to-no impact on the actual issues of energy, carbon, and climate at the scale of concern: the global scale. We don’t need this sort of regulatory greenwashing to respond to an issue of this magnitude.
We can do better than this…we have to.
Top 15 GDP’s in the world (based on 2015) ranked by CO2 intensity Continue reading “EPA’s Clean Power Plan: We Can Do Better”
U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership
(Published as an editorial in the Athens Banner-Herald on November 17, 2016.)
Since 2000, CO2 emissions in the U.S. have decreased 8% and are trending down while global emissions have increased 40% and are trending up. Does this represent global leadership by the U.S. with respect to energy policy and carbon goals? Continue reading “U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership”
Nuclear and Renewables:
Georgia is Zeroed-In on Zero-Carbon
Good news on nuclear and renewables coming out of Georgia as the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to preserve nuclear energy as a future option for the state by approving Georgia Power Company to conduct preliminary studies at a site in Stewart County, GA that has been proposed as the location for a potential nuclear plant. The Commission also approved Georgia Power to move forward on 1,600 MW of renewable energy projects, which includes utility-scale solar, distributed generation, wind and energy efficiency. Georgia Power also received approval to retire one coal unit and three combustion turbines. This is a wise, long-term move on nuclear power along with smart, calculated incremental steps on renewables. Continue reading “Nuclear and Renewables: Georgia is Zeroed-In on Zero-Carbon”
Renewable Energy: Enabled by, Not Competitive With, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels
Overstating renewable energy’s potential and real contribution toward meeting the dual challenges of reducing global carbon emissions and providing reliable energy for developing economies over the next 35 years cannot mask the reality that zero-carbon power generation shares are decreasing globally or that solar and wind are not cost-competitive with nuclear and fossils. Continue reading “Renewable Energy: Enabled By, Not Competitive With, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels”
Natural Gas and Renewables:
Lessons from California on Overdependency
But for the grace of nuclear, there go we.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” isn’t holding true in California’s ongoing experiment with natural gas and renewables, and it should serve as a warning to states that see gas and renewables as their lifeline to a reliable, low-carbon future. The warning being that the individual attributes of natural gas and renewables are adding up to an overdependency that is creating problems. Continue reading “Natural Gas and Renewables: Lessons from California on Overdependency”
Nuclear vs. 100% Renewable Energy: An Unnecessary Battle
The debate around carbon emissions and the energy path forward should be a deliberation that acknowledges realistic constraints and concedes that whichever path we take will require trade-offs since there is no zero-risk technology. In the case of the daunting energy-climate-economic issue staring us squarely in the face and the global scale at which we’re trying to work, prudence and pragmatism would call for negotiation and compromise. But that doesn’t seem to be an option with the 100% renewable energy movement. Instead, its supporters have mandated a false choice between two necessities that are not mutually exclusive. Two perfectly compatible zero-carbon energy resources, nuclear and renewables, have been forced into the center ring of an unnecessary and regrettable battle, even though both resources are needed. Not everyone wants this death match to continue—some of us want the fight to stop with both declared as winners, still standing and ready to fight the bigger battle of reducing carbon emissions, providing dependable electricity to billions living in energy poverty and supporting global economic development. Continue reading “Nuclear vs. 100% Renewable Energy: An Unnecessary Battle”
RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR OR BICYCLES?
Want to Reduce CO2 by 35%? Ride a Bicycle…Or, Build a Nuclear Power Plant.
It’s commonly reported that electricity production is the largest source of CO2 in the U.S. That’s barely the case.
In 2013, the U.S. emitted 5,278 mmtons of CO2. A breakdown of CO2 emissions per sector (Table 1) indicates that the transportation sector contributed 1,740 mmtons of CO2 (33% of U.S. total) while electric power contributed 2,022 mmtons (38.3% of U.S. total). The most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicate that in 2015 the U.S. emitted 5,271 mmtons of CO2. Of this, the transportation sector contributed 1,869 mmtons (35.5% of U.S. total) while the electric power sector contributed 1,925 mmtons (36.5% of the U.S. total). Recent emission trends have been up for the transportation sector and down for the power sector (Figure 1). Continue reading “Renewables, Nuclear, or Bicycles?”
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS DISAGREE
For my first post of the New Year I settled on nuclear as it’s the optimal resource for energy systems in society—energy dense, dispatchable, zero-emissions, and technologically advanced and the resource itself is cheap. It’s my sincere hope that the debate on the growth and development of nuclear power in the U.S. will be broached this year with rationale, logic, sobriety, and common sense given the challenges we’re facing. There is too much at stake and we have too many environmental constraints and economic goals in play to allow this resource to fade away or simply disappear from our industrial DNA while other countries throughout the world wisely invest in it and leverage its benefits in growing and developing their own economies. Continue reading “Nuclear Power: Climate Activists Disagree”
While nuclear has plenty of detractors, it also has key support from well-informed individuals from environmental and climate change camps. Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner promoted the obvious in September of 2014: Nuclear energy as a fundamental tool in addressing climate change (1) and, more recently, another former EPA Administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, added her support to nuclear as a key energy resource that meets power generation needs in ways renewables can’t (2). This places Browner and Whitman in camp with other pragmatists such as climate change pioneer James Hansen, who also supports the deployment of nuclear power in addressing climate change issues (3, 4). Continue reading “Commentary: Nuclear Support”