New York Times Pushes Nuclear Power as the Solution to Climate Change

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

In the face of the utter failure of large investments in renewables to deliver CO2 reductions, greens are increasingly embracing nuclear power as the solution to climate change.

Nuclear Power Can Save the World

Expanding the technology is the fastest way to slash greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the economy.

By Joshua S. Goldstein, Staffan A. Qvist and Steven Pinker
Drs. Goldstein and Qvist are the authors of “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.” Dr. Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard.

April 6, 2019

Where will this gargantuan amount of carbon-free energy come from? The popular answer is renewables alone, but this is a fantasy. Wind and solar power are becoming cheaper, but they are not available around the clock, rain or shine, and batteries that could power entire cities for days or weeks show no sign of materializing any time soon. Today, renewables work only with fossil-fuel backup.

Germany, which went all-in for renewables, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions, and, according to our calculations, at Germany’s rate of adding clean energy relative to gross domestic product, it would take the world more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country wasn’t also retiring nuclear plants early.

But we actually have proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. They decarbonized their grids decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. They remain among the world’s most pleasant places to live and enjoy much cheaper electricity than Germany to boot.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/opinion/sunday/climate-change-nuclear-power.html

The rise of mainstream green advocacy for nuclear power is long overdue.

I have never understood how anyone who thinks CO2 is a looming threat can argue in good faith against the evidence of two countries which have affordably reduced their CO2 emissions to a tenth of what everyone else emits, by embracing nuclear power.

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Nuclear Power To Rescue US Northwest from Cold and Low Wind/Hydro

sunshine hours

Nukes to the rescue.

“low stream flows, high natural gas prices and the very cold weather and low wind.”

For most of the month of February the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant has been under a “no touch” order to help keep the heat on across the region.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the electricity produced at the nuclear plant near Richland, asked for the restriction during an unusually cold February across the state that increased the demand for electricity.

The policy limits any maintenance activity that would either require a reduction in power or would pose a risk to sustaining 100 percent production, said Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest.

“No touch” is occasionally requested by BPA when unusually hot or cold weather increases demand for electricity.

For instance, in August 2017 the nuclear power plant was under the policy for about a week.

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Western Europe Power Mix In January

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

h/t Joe Public

There is a useful site for collecting data on the European power sector, called Energodock:

image

http://energodock.com/germany/electricity-generation

It gives a variety of data by country. I have used it to analyse generation data across Western Europe for last month. (I have ignored Eastern Europe at this stage).

image

Some observations:

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New Study Shows That Diesel Cars Are Much Cleaner Than Most Electric Vehicles

Reblogged from Wonderful Engineering:


electric vehicles causing more carbon footprint

The electric cars do not release carbon emissions, but the problem lies in the production of their lithium-ion batteries. The energy required to make the cells result in a high carbon footprint. It is so high that the automotive experts have estimated that an electric vehicle in Germany would take more than 10 years to break even with an efficient combustion engine’s emissions. Dr. Jan Burgard, managing partner at Berylls said in a statement, “Electric cars appear to be the panacea and reduce emissions by 35 %. After all, electric vehicles do not emit any carbon dioxide while driving – at least that is a widely held opinion.”

Burgard further added, “However, from well to wheel, they do not improve the situation. After all, electricity generation – including for electric cars – is still strongly dependent on fossil fuels in many EU countries. The climate does not care whether carbon dioxide comes from the exhaust pipe or whether it is released when lignite is burned to generate electricity or in energy-intensive battery production.” The study states that building a 500 kilograms EV car battery or bigger in a fossil fuel-powered factory will result in 74% more carbon emissions than producing a traditional vehicle. Burgard says that it is time to consider the diesel approach if the world wants to reach the environmental targets of 2030 EU CO2.

Burgard said, “I miss a technology-agnostic discussion of available solutions, which also includes the potential of the currently demonized diesel engine. We will need it to achieve the EU’s climate targets.” Several others are not convinced with the research report and have lashed it on Twitter. People stated that the report is biased and is coming from the place from where the funding arrives. However, it is essential to consider the dirty process of making a battery and make appropriate adjustments accordingly. While energy companies are moving towards greener initiatives, producing a cleaner battery might also be possible soon.

Can wind and solar replace fossil fuels?

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Richard D. Patton

Statements implying that wind and solar can provide 50% of the power to the grid are not difficult to find on the internet. For example, Andrew Cuomo announced that

“The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030…”

Considering that the wind is erratic, and the solar cells only put out full power 6 hours per day, it seems a remarkable statement. Can intermittent energy actually supply that much power?

For some answers, we turn to Germany, which has some of the highest electric bills in the world as well as a high proportion of its electric power produced by wind and solar (19%). Let’s take a look at German consumption and generation.

clip_image002

As you can see, the power generation (black line), especially after 2011, has been rising, but the power consumption (blue line) has been falling slightly. The red line denotes dispatchable generation, i.e. all power generated except wind and solar. This includes nuclear, fossil, biomass, hydro and geothermal power.

The table below shows what happened more clearly.  [units = billion kwh]

2001 2011 2016
Consumption 520.2 546.2 536.5
Dispatchable 539.1 506.4 496.3
wind+solar 10.6 68.3 116.3
losses+export 29.5 28.5 76.1

Between 2001 and 2011, wind and solar generation rose 57.7 billion kwh. The difference of dispatchable minus consumption fell by 58.7 billion kwh. In this period, solar and wind were displacing dispatchable power. Germany chose to reduce its nuclear fleet in this period, so fossil fuel use (mostly coal) remained strong and Germany’s carbon footprint was not significantly reduced.

In the period from 2011-2016, Germany’s wind and solar generation increased by another 48 billion kwh, but the difference between dispatchable generation and consumption was essentially flat at around 40 billion kwh. Losses+export increased by 47.6 billion kwh to 76.1 billion kwh in 2016. This increase is due to exports of 49 billion kwh to other countries in 2016.

While nuclear power fell 20% from 2011 to 2016, the dispatchable non-fossil fuel (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) portion of power generation remained almost constant, as can be seen on this graph.

clip_image004

This left the German fossil fuel and the intermittent (wind + solar) portion of power generation.

clip_image006

In this period, wind and solar rose from 68 to 116 billion kwh, yet this rise of 48 billion kwh had no effect on the use of fossil fuels to generate power in Germany. During the period of 2011 to 2016, consumption fell by 10 billion kwh. Fossil fuel generation fell by 5 billion kwh, and non-fossil fuel dispatchable generation (nuclear, hydro, biomass and geothermal) also fell by 5 billion kwh. The increase in wind and solar (48 billion kwh) had no effect on fossil fuel use.

 

Stability Problems, an example

To the problems caused by intermittent power, let us examine German power usage on January 7-9, 2016.

 

clip_image008

This graph begins at start of January 7, which is a Thursday. The load line (black) shows low power usage. The spot price (orange, right-hand scale) is 25€/Mwh. The blue line is the sum of wind and solar power, and the red line is how much power is being exported.

The day starts and the load increases as people head to work. The spot price rises to 42 €/Mwh because the load is increasing. The wind picks up and the wind+solar line rises. It keeps rising throughout the day. As people go home and the work day ends, the spot price plummets to 12 €/Mwh because there are too many producers of electricity. To cushion the system, more power is exported.

The next day, the price rises in the morning but is still low (25€/Mwh) during the day due to high wind output. Around noon (hour 37) the wind power plummets. This is in the middle of the work day on Friday, so the load is high. Wind+solar was producing almost one-half of the power, but within four hours, approximately 15,000 Mw of power are taken out of the system while the system is near peak load. The spot price rises quickly to 47€/Mwh as the wind+solar power falls. The exports of power are reduced to cushion the system.

Notice that the exports move with the wind+solar power (positive correlation) and the spot price moves opposite to wind+solar power (negative correlation). The correlation coefficient of Germany’s wind and solar energy output and the exchanges with other countries in 2016 was r=0.503. The correlation between the spot price and the wind and solar generation is -.411.

Wind+solar underwent a nearly 6-fold increase in power over 30 hours, and the system must accommodate that power. Wind+solar then fell by 50% (25% of the load) in 4 hours. Exporting some of that power out of the system helps stabilize it. The spot price movements attract or repel other power producers to balance the system and prevent blackouts.

Despite these efforts, Germany is now plagued by blackouts. According to the (German) Federal Grid Agency (the Bundesnetzagentur), there are 172,000 power outages in Germany annually. This was reported by Hessen Public TV (HR). Previously, the German grid was impeccable.

After all of this effort, including patience are the part of the public in accepting these continual blackouts, Germany’s carbon footprint has barely budged. The CO2 emissions from coal and coke have only fallen 2% between 2011 and 2016, due to decreased consumption of electricity. The extra 48 billion kwh produced from wind and solar plants built between 2011 and 2016 was balanced by exports of 49 billion kwh in 2016. In terms of reducing Germany’s carbon footprint, the entire effort is a failure.

Apparently, there is a limit to how much intermittent power a grid can use before it becomes unstable. German wind and solar use maxed out in 2011 at around 68 billion kwh, or 12.5% of consumption. Back in the 90’s, engineering textbooks on wind were saying that people used to believe that wind could only supply about 10% of the power to the grid due to stability problems, but further studies showed that it could actually supply 30%. The real-life example of Germany shows that the engineers who said wind could only supply 10% of the power had a point.

It has not been proven that the NY Clean Energy Mandate (or similar mandates elsewhere) can be met by relying on wind and solar power. Given the example of Germany, doubts are in order. As advertised by its politicians, Germany gets 19% of its energy from wind and solar. What they do not say is that it also exports 1/3 of that energy out of country, leaving its carbon footprint unchanged since 2011. Some small countries, notably Denmark, have advertised that they get 50% or more of their energy from sun and wind. What they really mean is that they have a large country (in the case of Denmark, Germany) next to them absorbing that power and selling them power when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down. Because it is a small country selling into a big market, its energy sales do not disturb the grid stability of the bigger market. It is a much different case when the larger country (Germany) tries it. Germany’s attempt, the Energiewende (energy transition), is widely judged to have been a failure. If New York goes down that path, it is not likely to do much better.

Sources

Andrew Cuomo 50% announcement

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-establishment-clean-energy-standard-mandates-50-percent-renewables

 

Data for graphs were sourced from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Unfortunately, this is a beta site, but there was no other link to international data.

The EIA website has generation and consumption figures for every country for the years 1980-2016.

The link for German electricity generation (including different sources – wind, fossil fuel, etc.) is:

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=00000000000000000000000000000fvu&c=ruvvvvvfvtujvv1urvvvvfvvvvvvfvvvou20evvvvvvvvvnvvuvs&ct=0&tl_id=2-A&vs=INTL.2-12-AFG-BKWH.A&ord=CR&vo=0&v=H&end=2016

The link for German electricity consumption is:

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=0000002&c=ruvvvvvfvtujvv1urvvvvfvvvvvvfvvvou20evvvvvvvvvnvvuvs&ct=0&tl_id=2-A&vs=INTL.2-2-AFG-BKWH.A&vo=0&v=H&end=2016

The correlation coefficients were calculated from hourly European data compiled by P. F. Bach. He did those same calculations and sent them to me in a personal communication; the numbers matched. Here is the download link to his website.

http://www.pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/time_series/ts.php

He got the data from Entso-e, a platform showing power genraton, consumption and transmission in Europe. Its website is here, and registration is free:

https://transparency.entsoe.eu/transmission-domain/physicalFlow/show

The power outages data are from no tricks zone. Pierre Gosslin, who runs it, usually has interesting facts about Germany. Here is the link to that:

http://notrickszone.com/2017/12/01/germanys-national-power-grid-mess-country-seeing-whopping-172000-power-outages-annually/

The links to German TV from that article do not work.

Also, from no tricks zone, a report form ARD TV in Germany.

http://notrickszone.com/2018/01/26/unstable-green-power-grids-german-ard-television-tells-citizens-to-start-getting-used-to-blackouts/#sthash.rvUw5X6k.PzjU81fG.dpbs

The link from that article to ARD TV is available below

https://www.ardmediathek.de/ard/player/Y3JpZDovL2Rhc2Vyc3RlLmRlL3BsdXNtaW51cy81MWU3M2MwYy0wYjljLTQ4MTgtYTk0My1lZmJiZGIzMGU5YmI/

My German is very poor, but the show said 473/day or 172,645/year. Also, the show linked the stability problems to storms and wind power. In other words, wind power was specifically called out for Germany’s stability problems.

Bill Gates Backs Advanced Nuclear Power to Solve the Climate Crisis

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

 

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Bill Gates has joined the growing list of Greens who think renewables alone cannot replace fossil fuels.

What I learned at work this year

By Bill Gates
December 29, 2018

Global emissions of greenhouse gases went up in 2018. For me, that just reinforces the fact that the only way to prevent the worst climate-change scenarios is to get some breakthroughs in clean energy.

Some people think we have all the tools we need, and that driving down the cost of renewables like solar and wind solves the problem. I am glad to see solar and wind getting cheaper and we should be deploying them wherever it makes sense.

But solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy, and we are unlikely to have super-cheap batteries anytime soon that would allow us to store sufficient energy for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Besides, electricity accounts for only 25% of all emissions. We need to solve the other 75% too.

This year Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the clean-energy investment fund I’m involved with, announced the first companies we’re putting money into. You can see the list at http://www.b-t.energy/ventures/our-investment-portfolio/. We are looking at all the major drivers of climate change. The companies we chose are run by brilliant people and show a lot of promise for taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and getting them to market.

Next year I will speak out more about how the U.S. needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research. (This is unrelated to my work with the foundation.)

Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.

The United States is uniquely suited to create these advances with its world-class scientists, entrepreneurs, and investment capital.

Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago. To regain this position, it will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it’s serious.

There are several promising ideas in advanced nuclear that should be explored if we get over these obstacles. TerraPower, the company I started 10 years ago, uses an approach called a traveling wave reactor that is safe, prevents proliferation, and produces very little waste. We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely. We may be able to build it in the United States if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen.

The world needs to be working on lots of solutions to stop climate change. Advanced nuclear is one, and I hope to persuade U.S. leaders to get into the game.

Read more: https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Year-in-Review-2018

Anthony, myself, many others at WUWT have repeatedly said we have no problem with policies which encourage nuclear power, though we oppose carbon pricing because it imposes unnecessary hardship.

The evidence is unequivocal that the world could rapidly decarbonise the global economy by embracing nuclear power, without reducing consumption or making radical lifestyle changes.

France switched from coal to nuclear power in the 1970s without breaking their economy. They kept costs down by mass producing standardised reactor components, reprocessing waste fuel, and by reducing bureaucratic impediments by designating nuclear power a strategic national priority. France still generates 71% of their electricity from nuclear reactors, though lately President Macron is attempting to undo this achievement.

If nuclear power is such an obviously [sic] solution, why hasn’t it happened?

The main obstacle to going full nuclear in the West is the green movement.

When leading climate scientists beg the world to consider embracing nuclear power to decarbonise the economy, greens respond by calling them names.

Greens tell us we all must have the utmost respect for the global warming concerns of their favourite climate scientists, but that respect goes out the window whenever those same climate scientists say something which contradicts green policy objectives.

Next time a green asks you to make personal lifestyle sacrifices to reduce your carbon footprint, ask them why opposing nuclear power, the only large scale zero carbon energy source likely to receive bipartisan support, is more important to the green movement than reducing CO2. If you get an answer which makes sense let me know – because green excuses that nuclear is too expensive (not in France), or too dangerous (more dangerous than the end of the world?!) simply don’t make sense.

The Social Benefit Of Carbon

Skating Under The Ice

Cross-posted from Watts Up With That, where I publish my scientific work.

After my recent post on the futility of the US cutting down on CO2 emissions, I got to thinking about what is called the “social cost of carbon”. (In passing, even the name is a lie. It’s actually the supposed cost of carbon DIOXIDE, not carbon … salesmanship and “framing” applied to what should be science. But I digress …)

According to the Environmental Defense Fund the “social cost of carbon” is:

… the dollar value of the total damages from emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The current central estimate of the social cost of carbon is roughly $40 per ton.

Now, for me, discussing the “social cost of carbon” is a dereliction of scientific duty because it is only half of an analysis.

A real analysis is where you draw a vertical…

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Union of Concerned Scientists For Nukes!

From Watts Up With That:

From Reason

Activist group finally recognizes that it can’t achieve its energy and climate goals without nuclear power.

Ronald Bailey|Nov. 13, 2018 4:00 pm

The activists at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have had a partial change of heart about nuclear power. Back in 2007, the UCS’ Global Warming and Nuclear Power report declared, “prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.”

In its new report, The Nuclear Power Dilemma, the UCS now recognizes that nuclear power plays an important role in addressing the problem of man-made global warming by helping to keep U.S. carbon dioxide emissions considerably lower than they would otherwise be. The UCS notes that there has been a 28 percent reduction in U.S. power-sector emissions of carbon dioxide below 2005 levels. This is largely due to the switch from coal to cheap fracked natural gas, to increased energy efficiency, and to the deployment of some solar and wind generation capacity.

The UCS fears that this trend toward lower carbon dioxide emissions will be derailed because many of the currently operating nuclear power plants will close because they are being outcompeted by generation facilities fueled by cheap natural gas and subsidized renewable power generation. “More than one-third of existing plants, representing 22 percent of total U.S. nuclear capacity, are unprofitable or scheduled to close,” notes the report. “The possibility that the nation will replace existing nuclear plants with natural gas and coal rather than low-carbon sources raises serious concerns about our ability to achieve the deep cuts in carbon emissions needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change.” The UCS has evidently come to realize that closing down nuclear power plants will perversely “lock-in” fossil fuels and thus make it harder and more expensive to “save the climate.”

In order to avoid this outcome the UCS advocates either raising the price of electricity generated from burning fossil fuels by putting a price of $25 per ton on carbon dioxide emissions (to be increased at 5 percent annually) or adopting a steadily rising national low-carbon electricity standard. The UCS favorably cites the subsidy schemes adopted by New York, New Jersey and Illinois to keep open nuclear power plants outcompeted by natural gas and subsidized renewable energy generators.

Of course, the UCS’s mild embrace of nuclear power has provoked criticism by some progressives. Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Obama administration, said to ThinkProgress that nuclear reactors “are a bad bet for a climate strategy.” Why? Because the costs of building nuclear power plants have risen steeply over the years.

Click here for the complete article

 

Wind power can’t fill Sweden’s nuclear energy gap

Tallbloke's Talkshop


Another example of the obvious inadequacy of part-time unpredictable wind power, and its consequencies for countries that insist on pursuing it. Relying on imports to avoid power shortages can’t be ideal for any country.
H/T The GWPF/Reuters

Sweden will have to import more electricity during winter as the country, a net power exporter to the rest of Europe, shifts from nuclear to wind, its grid operator said.

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