Nuclear vs. Solar, Permanent Temperature Increases

by Robert Nagle on 5/17/2010

in global warming,Open Media


This thread gives a great discussion about nuclear vs. solar.  The comments are more interesting than the article itself. From the comments, here’s a map of the US along with its solar energy generation potential and a fascinating article by Australian Peter Lang about how significantly lower the costs of nuclear power are over time when compared to solar. One informed  commenter summarizes the Lang article:

Peter Lang does a thorough analysis of the cost of supplying all of Australia (one of the best locations on Earth) with Renewables. Conclusion:
Solar PV with Pumped Hydro storage: $2,800 billion
Solar PV with NaS battery storage: $4,600 billion
Solar Thermal with storage: $4,400 billion
Nuclear Power: $120 billion
Just the cost of the Power Transmission TRUNK lines (500kv AC – not superexpensive superconducting ) to supply Australia with Wind & Solar Energy is $180 billion — 50% MORE THAN THE ENTIRE NUCLEAR OPTION!!
CO2 emissions for all of Australia for 30 days:
Solar PV: 71 million tonnes
Coal: 219 million tonnes
Coal with CCS: 33 million tonnes
Nuclear: 3.3 million tonnes

(I don’t deny that the devil is in the details, and that each proponent is armed with their own set of numbers justifying their own economics, but still these numbers should make stop and pause at least. Joe Romm offers a lot of articles with the opposite viewpoint). A lot depends on what kind of nuclear power plant are you talking about. Third Generation and Fourth Generation nuclear power plants have solved many of the common problems cited about nuclear power. Joe Romm summarizes about nuclear as a climate change solution:

Based on a post last year on the Keystone report, to do this by 2050 would require adding globally, an average of 17 plants each year, while building an average of 9 plants a year to replace those that will be retired, for a total of one nuclear plant every two weeks for four decades — plus 10 Yucca Mountains to store the waste. I also doubt it will be among the cheaper options. And the uranium supply and non-proliferation issues for even that scale of deployment are quite serious.

Fascinating audio recording of one of the last negotiating round tables between presidents.   Notable details:  Obama warns that the meeting can’t go on forever,  China refused to send their Premier to this session (a major slap in the face), EU nations seem unaware of how differently developing nations see the negotiations (in fact, developing nations made their own agreement in a separate negotiating session). The Mexican Environmental minister commented on the aftermath: "When more than 190 countries are supposed to reach a consensus, it’s simply too complicated."

About the oil spill, I have been following it closely. I don’t have much new to say about that, except that PBS’s coverage of it has been pathetic .. mainly because of their choice of guests. This has happened before.  Also, the New York Times has sometimes failed us although overall they have been providing good coverage.  Houston Chronicle’s coverage has been ample but industry-focused. (You have to remember that Oil and Gas are the cornerstone of the Houston economy. Tuesday May 18 is officially  Exxon Mobil Anniversary Day in Houston).   I regret that most newspaper sources are focusing on forensics and not really on global or long term implications.  My rule of thumb for reading media reports is to disregard all company spokesman. They may have interesting information to impart, but only a skeptical or critical eye can understand what it means (and does not mean). 

Craig Severance reviews the latest Peak Oil research and Sima Gandhi reviews tax subsidies for the oil industry.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: