Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Renewables AND Nuclear

At its beginning, I found this report frustrating. “Yet another example of a renewables VS. nuclear report,” I thought. But that’s not quite the impression I had at the article’s conclusion. Yes, the two are compared in a tit-for-tat way throughout the past few decades; and yes, there is no mention that most of the ‘renewable’ generation comes from hydro.

However, carbon emissions – and in particular coal – are justifiably portrayed as the bad guys and the report focuses on electricity generated as opposed to the very misleading metric: installed capacity.

The report also mentions the expansion of non-carbon generation in US States with ‘…favorable policies such as renewable energy portfolio standards.’ This highlights the need for responsible and pragmatic policy action and supports the notion that policy action resulting in a price on carbon emissions will accelerate the transition of generation away from carbon intense technologies.

There is no reason to suspect the same is untrue for Australia. And there is certainly no reason to exacerbate a nuclear vs. renewables debate. Considering the amount of carbon-based generation that is to be replaced, as well as the time within which this transition must occur; renewables AND nuclear must both expand considerably.

A price on carbon is the prerequisite mechanism to achieve any credible target.

in reference to: Renewables Share of Energy Rises, Almost Catching up with Nuclear Power (Energy Priorities) (view on Google Sidewiki)


  1. Not so "renewables" are a waste of precious and critical time and resources. They produce little or no net energy because of load balancing issues.

    Peak oil/global warming alarmists need to concentrate our resources on building up nuclear power and destroying renewables as a legit option with fact based argument.

  2. Thanks for your comment Seth.

    I am confident, if we got into the details, you and I would find many points on which we agree. However, I am reluctant to go as far as you and declare renewables a waste.

    Hydro, for example, plus nuclear are excellent partners in several countries' non-carbon, baseload generation - in particular Sweden. Similarly, geothermal seems to be working well in Iceland and both the Germans as well as the Danes [among others] have accomplished respectable gains with renewable energy deployment programmes. But where you declare these efforts a waste, I just consider them inadequate to tackle the issue at hand [and YES, please count me among those who support action... dramatic action, to cut greenhouse gas emissions].

    If carbon emissions pose serious risk, then let’s get serious about addressing them. I encourage our government to adopt a carbon price. Based on what I’ve read, I would welcome a fee and dividend approach as promoted by a leading American climate advocate and NASA Director – Dr James Hansen. [linked below for reference]


  3. Some good points! But Denmark works fairly well because its 650 MWe of wind in West Denmark is linked by 1050 MWe interconnecter to Norway's hydro.
    Germany is much less positive because every MW of wind added now means that much spinning reserve on brown coal plant, and guess what?

  4. Agreed. But I thought the Germans were relying more on Russian gas... [with its own risks as demonstrated over the past few years]

    A proper price on carbon will encourage decision makers to consider each technology in an Australian context.