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Biden Climate Policy Chief Believes Batteries Will One Day Replace Nuclear Power

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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In a June, 2020 podcast Maggie Thomas, Biden Domestic Climate Policy Chief, has no good answers when asked by Jason Jacobs what will supply reliable electricity when nuclear energy "otherwise needs to be decommissioned". An excerpt:

"Jason Jacobs: What about nuclear?

Maggie Thomas: Nuclear. Absolutely. I would say has a role to play in the transition. I personally don't think you have to be like pro-nuclear or against nuclear."

Like, thanks!

Jason Jacobs: Should we be decommissioning the existing fleet?

Maggie Thomas: I personally don't believe we need to necessarily decommission the existing fleet before they otherwise need to be decommissioned. I think it's fine to rely on nuclear as a baseline [sic] solution now. That said, we should be focusing and prioritizing building new renewables before we are focusing and building new nuclear.

Jason Jacobs: Given that, what do you think the role is of natural gas in the short term, medium term and long term?

Maggie Thomas: There is no role for natural gas."

Jacobs, understandably, senses a disconnect:

"Jason Jacobs: I'm going to start speaking over my pay grade here, but how do we ramp up renewables while decommissioning nuclear without continuing to rely on coal or natural gas?"

Maybe empty rhetoric can bridge the gap:

"Maggie Thomas: We have the federal government make large scale investments in our clean energy transition. We use the federal government to set sector specific clean energy standards, and we have a focus and prioritization on justice."

Nope. Jacobs forges ahead:

"Jason Jacobs: But technologically, and again, I'm going to start speaking over my pay grade here. So maybe I'm confused or misspeaking, but if it isn't nuclear, then doesn't it require coal or natural gas to power the base load due to intermittency until there's breakthroughs on long-duration storage that aren't close?"

Cornered, Thomas cites a non-peer-reviewed study - this one from dark money non-profit EnergyInnovation, LLC - that clings to the astoundingly-naïve assumption there will indeed be breakthroughs on long-duration storage - that huge batteries might one day be capable of powering an electricity grid at night, or when the wind isn't blowing (or both):

"Maggie Thomas: No. So that's exactly, actually, what was so interesting about the study that just came out from Energy Innovation, saying that we can get to 90% clean by 2035, is that it won't raise electricity bills and we can get there with the existing technology that we have now. Existing technology is really important because that's like the technology that we have today."

These are, like, the people we have calling the shots in DC about the future of our planet.

https://www.myclimatejourney.co/episodes/maggie-thomas

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Jamie Steel's picture
Jamie Steel on Mar 1, 2021

"Like thanks!" haha, superb. I'm looking forward to the policy paper setting out getting to 90% clean without energy prices.

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