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?”
OREGON PASSES LAW, BANS COAL: A BROADER PERSPECTIVE
Scattered between our current energy economy and a future lower emission energy economy are numerous and varied obstacles that present society with formidable challenges. Some are technical; some are social, economic and political. Yet others are a wicked complex of all the above with serious implications for overly simplified solutions that fail to account for these complexities. As such, if society is to transition from where it is today to a much different day in the future, the space in between now and then must be strategically navigated and the challenges must be met and resolved. We can’t just be there…we have to get there. And getting there will require nuclear, natural gas, renewables, and advanced coal technologies ( e.g., CCS, IGCC).
Moreover, not every state and country should be required by law to get there the exact same way. To do so would reflect an egregious misunderstanding of economic development, power generation and the ongoing challenges facing the industry.
Continue reading “Oregon Coal Ban”
THE OTHER FACE OF ENERGY
The face of climate change just got a lot cuter. It also got a name. Nora the polar bear was introduced a couple of weeks ago at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio and has been touching hearts ever since, particularly the hearts of global climate activists who see Nora as a way to draw attention to climate change. Continue reading “The Other Face of Energy”
AMERICA NEEDS AN EXCEPTIONAL PRESIDENT…
AND SO DOES THE WORLD
(Written and posted, January 2016; A post-primary paragraph is appended)
Beginning to emerge are the outlines of a new era that resembles less the twentieth century than the nineteenth. Ours is a world of constant flux, shifting alignments, numerous power centers, and states coming together and apart—all with an overlay of modern technology and globalization. The potential for disorder is considerable, and will only be ameliorated through the concerted efforts of many of the world’s most powerful countries led by the United States, the only country now and for the foreseeable future with both the capacity and the tradition of working on behalf of broader global arrangements to the benefit of others as well as itself. The question is whether the United States will continue to be that country, something that will require discipline in what America does at home and wisdom in what it does abroad.
[Richard Haass, Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order; p. 14] Continue reading “America Needs an Exceptional President”
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”
ECONOMIC IMPERATIVES OF
THE PARIS CLIMATE TALKS
One analogy used in characterizing global climate change is: “Earth has a fever”. To extend the analogy a little further, when a body has a fever it’s expedient to provide a diagnosis, prognosis and, if possible, therapy. In this case, the diagnosis has been determined to be greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2, and the prognosis is that Earth’s climate system will change with consequences detrimental to human society. As for the therapy, that’s where the politics, rhetoric and posturing begin, with rationale, logic and common sense often being the first casualties. Continue reading “The Paris Climate Talks”
CARBON AND CLIMATE
- Paris Climate Talks
The Paris climate talks begin in a couple of weeks and some encouraging news from a recent study shows that CO2 emission intensities (on a per capita basis) are decreasing in 11 of the G20 countries. At the same time, the sticky issue of money and financing has moved to the forefront of pre-talk chatter.
Continue reading “Weekly Post: Nov. 8-14”
I took a sabbatical and didn’t post anything last week. A reflection of two things: 1) I was slammed at work and couldn’t find the time; and 2) I’m still developing the discipline that’s needed for maintaining a blog. So, this post will cover the past two weeks. Continue reading “Weekly Post: Nov. 1-7”