California Has Decided Its Energy Future:
Now It’s Georgia’s Turn
A couple of weeks ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that sets California on the path toward generating all of the state’s electricity from clean sources. The word “clean” is somewhat of a hedge as it leaves the window cracked open for nuclear power to be included in this zero-carbon objective. However, California’s recent history all but points to their real objective of 100% renewable energy since the state recently voted to shut down its last remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, and subsequently passed legislation requiring that Diablo’s generation be offset by zero-carbon resources.
The California dream is 100% renewable energy—zero coal, zero natural gas and zero nuclear. Moreover, Governor Brown hopes that California’s 100% clean energy bill will serve as a model for other state and national governments and will “wake up the national leaders” on the need to confront climate change.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the lone U.S. nuclear construction project at Plant Vogtle faces a critical vote on Monday, September 24. Continue reading “California Has Decided Its Energy Future: Now It’s Georgia’s Turn”
Renewable Energy in Perspective: The Carbon Gap
In the aftermath of yesterday’s announcement by EPA of its Affordable Clean Energy plan, which is proposed as a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, it’s worth taking a look at the global carbon picture in order to maintain the appropriate perspective for global climate. The emphasis here being that it’s global climate, not just U.S. climate, and the deployment of renewable energy in the U.S. isn’t where our carbon-reduction focus should be confined. This brief analysis points to the need for large-scale deployments of nuclear power in order to offset the continued expansion of fossil fuel-fired power generation as renewable energy alone is not standing up to the challenge of carbon emissions at the global scale of billions of people and trillions of dollars in economic activity. The greatest impact the U.S. can have on reducing global carbon emissions is working with other countries in the deployment of nuclear power.
Continue reading “Renewable Energy in Perspective: The Carbon Gap”
Georgia & California:
Two States, Two Completely Different Ideologies on Energy Policy
(Full Op-ed is in The Hill )
California’s recent decision to mandate solar PV on all new home construction and Georgia’s commitment to completing construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle represent two completely opposite approaches to investing in zero-carbon energy resources. Solar and renewable advocates will no doubt applaud California for taking such unprecedented action to battle global climate change by way of its solar mandate and other renewable energy efforts. However, if California is applauded, Georgia certainly deserves applause for fighting that same battle, yet also making critical contributions to national security with new nuclear power construction at Vogtle.
This reflects the right of individual states to govern their energy policy under the auspices of their respective state leadership. It also reflects the reality that the U.S. remains locked in a battle of ideas among various states as to how the nation’s electric power sector should be organized in order to meet the multiple objectives of reliability, affordability, safety, carbon reduction and national security.
While this battle may be inevitable due to divergent ideologies across state lines, it is imprudent and altogether unnecessary for U.S. nuclear power to become a casualty in that battle because the prospect of an America without nuclear power not only calls into question whether the U.S. can meet low-carbon objectives reliably and affordably, it also represents national security risks with which America should never experiment.
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”
Overselling California Solar
A couple of days ago the headlines read: “California Powers 6 Million Homes With Solar Energy, Slays Record.” The reference was to a record amount of solar power generated in California on July 12, 2016. I wonder how the general public interprets a headline that implies solar energy can sustain meeting the power requirements of six million homes for an appreciable period of time. Continue reading “Overselling California Solar”
Renewable Energy Cannot Substitute for Nuclear:
A Perspective on Meeting Power Generation Needs in Georgia, USA
The often-discussed issue of replacing nuclear with solar or wind is a false choice—solar and wind energy cannot substitute for nuclear energy. With respect to how we should move forward in our energy policy, everyone is entitled to their own convictions, but not their own math and not their own science and engineering. Continue reading “Renewable Energy Cannot Substitute for Nuclear: A Georgia Perspective”
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”
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?”