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Experts: renewable "fantasy" is to blame for accelerating changes in climate

image credit: Dr. James Hansen, Director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University / Fair use.
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 November Temperature Update and the 'Big Climate Short', climate scientists James Hansen, Makiko Sato, and Pushker Kharecha of Columbia University's Earth Institute level a withering attack on what's wrong with humanity's response to climate change - and why the frightening future they predicted decades ago may now be unavoidable.

"The underlying reason for the great overshoot of the 2°C scenario is failure of the world to develop a clean energy system for electricity. Instead, the West – or at least the liberal West – has adopted the fantasy of 100% renewable energy within decades, in which both nuclear power and fossil fuels are eliminated. Further, the West has instructed the developing world that it, too, must follow this fantasy. Consequently, President Clinton terminated research and development on nuclear power in the United States after his election in 1992. Germany, as the host nation for COP6 in Bonn in 2001, excluded nuclear power as a clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. Now, financing for fossil fuel or nuclear power plants is being denied to developing countries, even though the West used those energies to raise its own standards of living and continues to use those energies as needed to maintain living standards.

The 100% renewables vision was spurred mainly by Amory Lovins, who correctly projected in the 1970s that energy efficiency would allow less energy use than predicted by the Energy Information Agency. However, his expectation that all fossil fuels, nuclear power and large hydro could be replaced by soft renewables is debunked by real world data. Real world utility experts conclude that renewable energies must be complemented by reliable baseload electricity generation available 24/7 – either fossil fuels or nuclear.  For the sake of climate, the partner of renewables had better be nuclear power, not fossil fuels.

The Big Climate Short has been handed to young people. They are inheriting an energy and climate system in which large climate change is now unavoidable. The United Nations and government leaders pretend that global warming, now at 1.2°C, can be curtailed with little additional warming. Capable scientists with an understanding of climate and energy know that this is pure, unadulterated bulls**t. Politicians who claim paltry successes while ignoring the elephants in the room must be called out. We have sold our young people short."

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Xisto Vieira Filho's picture
Xisto Vieira Filho on Jan 4, 2022

Those are very interesting comments, and thank you Bob for raising these points.

I would only add some additional comments, the first of them is that we should mantain as the " support generation " in the sp-called transition period not only nuclear generation, but also gas fired thermal plants. The reasons for that are several , but we will list some of them. At first, we could say that the key issue for the electric matrix security is to have an adequate mix of sources. Some countries have currently difficulties for implementing nukes in large scale. In terms of operation one can get more flexibility with gas plants , either to help with intermittencies, or to respond as controllable reserve , to control system frequency. Finally it is of utmost importance to emphasize that we are resuming important developments in CCUS , with several projects all over the world, as well as in techniques for green hydrogen to be used in conventional thermal plants.

But these two types of plants will be the suppor generation in the transition period.

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture
Vladimir Vinogradov on Jan 10, 2022

Exactly Bob. See here.

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