Renewables, Nuclear, or Bicycles?

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?”

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Oregon Coal Ban

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 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

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”

Nuclear Power: Climate Activists Disagree

NUCLEAR POWER:
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”

The Paris Climate Talks

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”

Weekly Post: Nov. 8-14

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”

Weekly Post: Oct. 18-24

REGULATIONS

  • THE CARBON RULE IS LAW
    EPA Carbon Rule Hits the Federal Register: Is Now Federal Law
    This past week in energy (at least in the U.S. and in Georgia) was punctuated by what happened toward the end of the week: EPA’s carbon rule for power plants (aka, the Clean Power Plan) was posted on the Federal Register and, thus, becomes federal law. Before the CFR could hit the final HTML button to post it electronically, 24 states and a coal mining company filed lawsuits challenging the rule’s legality. Georgia, one of the 24 states filing suit, has the support of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division in its challenge to EPA. In the days leading up to the rule’s publication, EPA’s chief air regulator, Janet McCabe, expressed confidence that the rule would withstand the legal challenges. Time will tell—albeit a very long time. While I can’t attest to all the legal grounds on which these lawsuits are being filed, from what I understand about 111(d), states traditionally have had a significant role in developing and implementing the standards for sources, and I’m not sure EPA maintained that role for states when they came up with this rule. EPA has a Clean Power Plan website where you can peruse through the technical details and EPA’s promotion of the rule. Legalities aside, my own assessment of the rule is that it’s just bad energy policy. You can read my editorial at Insider Advantage’s James Magazine, starting on page 10.
    Though states have filed suit, the timing of this CFR publication more than likely circumvents any court action prior to the Paris talks. Politics matters. So does timing.

Continue reading “Weekly Post: Oct. 18-24”

Commentary: Nuclear Support

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”