‘Fantasy’ plans of doubling nuclear capacity would cut global carbon emissions by just 4 percent — Need one new plant each week for two decades

Published: January 3rd, 2012 at 2:17 pm ET
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Nuclear Fantasy, Foreign Policy, Kumi Naidoo (Executive Director, Greenpeace International), Jan. 2, 2012:

For a source of electricity that contributes to about 3 percent of global energy consumption, we are having an awfully big debate. [...]

Even before the Fukushima meltdown, industry plans to double nuclear power capacity were in the realm of fantasy. Doubling current capacity would require a multibillion-dollar nuclear plant to come on stream every week for two decades. That’s a far cry from the few reactors that become operational worldwide each year. Such a construction boom would only cut global carbon dioxide emissions by 3 to 4 percent.

Building a nuclear power plant currently takes more than a decade from inception to completion, rendering such plants irrelevant in stopping CO2 emission growth during this decade, a prerequisite for keeping global warming below catastrophic levels.

Contrast that with two or three years for a wind farm or less than a year for solar panels. Wind power already provides more affordable power than nuclear power plants, and the costs for solar panels are coming down faster than anyone could predict. [...]

Read the full piece here

Published: January 3rd, 2012 at 2:17 pm ET
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19 comments to ‘Fantasy’ plans of doubling nuclear capacity would cut global carbon emissions by just 4 percent — Need one new plant each week for two decades

  • Mack Mack

    The U.S. only consumes 8.5% of nuclear energy at-source.

    Said it before, say it again.

    We could all easily conserve that 8.5% and shut down all 104 nuclear power plants.

    But…that would be the smart thing to do, so it will never get done.


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    • Mack Mack

      And as for Japan…

      Japan was using nuclear energy to meet roughly 30% of its energy needs.

      Japan is now meeting its energy needs by:

      1. Conserving energy

      2. Liquid natural gas, which they import

      Plus, Japan’s energy needs are met by using green/renewable energy sources such as:

      1. Biomass fuel – 70 plants using biomass fuel, including a biomass fuel plant that burns oil derived from imported pine trees

      2. 18 Geothermal plants

      3. Solar Power – Japan is third in the world in its use of solar power, and in December 2011, Tokyo Electric began operating a solar power plant in Hachinohe, Aomori, providing 1.6 million kwh per year

      4. 1,807 Wind turbines

      5. 1,198 small Hydropower plants

      6. 14 generators burn both coal and biomass fuel

      7. 190 generators attached to municipal waste units burn biomass fuel

      https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Energy_in_Japan#Renewable_energy


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    • aigeezer aigeezer

      Hi Mack. I agree with your comments, except for the last sentence. I get the irony, but once we entertain such thoughts the bad guys win.

      How about: It is the smart thing to do. Let’s do it. ;-)

      I’ve cut my energy usage way back in recent years – it was completely painless. It saves money and it helps get rid of that helpless feeling. I’ll bet you’ve done it already also.


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  • midwestern midwestern

    The End of the Nuclear Renaissance:
    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-end-the-nuclear-renaissance-6325
    “…The truly significant developments, however, were not driven by politics, although they will have profound political implications. In 2011, nuclear power ceased to be a serious option for meeting the world’s energy needs, and solar photovoltaics (PV) finally became an option worth noting…”


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  • waddirum waddirum

    Aside from the pro- vs. anti- nuke argument, it would be impossible to build one new nuke plant a week. There is simply not the engineering manpower nor the Class 1 seismically tested nuclear components available for such a task. In addition, there are currently like a 1 or 2 steel foundries capable of manufacturing the pressure vessel. And none are in the U.S.


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  • Kevin Kevin

    Nice stream of posts today Admin. While there is a considerable base of altruistic environmentalists among the Global Warming, the alarming undercurrent has been and continues to be the validation of a nuclear resurgence. Any valid analysis of the subject strongly suggests that no such renaissance would in fact any real impact on the carbon isseue. Quite the contrary really as some of today’s posts are communicating.

    In order for people to come out from under the power paradigm largely propogated by energy behemoths, a decentralized, small is beautiful approach to power generation is head and shoulders above any other potential fix to the environmental and economic woes currently at the heart of the destruction of the worlds largest most powerful empire.


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  • Grampybone Grampybone

    Even if you built a power plant every week you would then be faced with the problem of shutting any of them down. Already there is no game plan in place to remove spent fuel. Storage of nuclear fuel is also dangerous because it leaks and eventually irradiates the entire storage site. The spent fuel can also be sent into catastrophic reactive states by natural disaster. None of the current storage areas are safe and most are full or beyond capacity. Nuclear was a fable to begin with.


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  • Radio VicFromOregon

    I used to coordinate educational projects and develop funds for local solar providers in Portland, OR. One of the things we always suggested in addition to all these great recommendations listed here today is to offset carbon and electric use by paying a little extra to buy green energy from the electric company and carbon offset for cars. The money gets reinvested into green energy expansion and development.


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  • arclight arclight

    And while we are being showered with the good news of nuclear collapse… this!
    Tuesday, January 3, 2012
    They Will Grow Rice Again This Year in Fukushima
    Regarding the rice harvested in part of Fukushima that was found with radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg), the Fukushima prefectural government has decided to instruct farmers to give more potassium fertilizer when they plant rice for 2012.
    http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/01/they-will-grow-rice-again-this-year-in.html

    and what about the farmers who have to work with the soil and cesium soaked water? Potassium poisoning so tepco can save a few bob!!

    Symptoms of Potassium Poisoning
    “….Although potassium is a mineral your body needs every day, getting too much of this nutrient can be dangerous to your health. Potassium poisoning — more commonly referred to as potassium toxicity or hyperkalemia — occurs when your blood potassium levels exceed 6 mEq/L. High potassium levels may arise due to the use of certain medications, such as potassium supplement, or the presence of certain health conditions, such as kidney failure. Seek care from a medical professional if you exhibit symptoms of potassium poisoning. Without prompt and appropriate treatment, potassium poisoning may be life-threatening….”

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/416767-symptoms-of-potassium-poisoning/


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  • One other “fantasy” of the nukes is lying about what is natural radiation and what is not.

    Guide to Magnitude of Radiation Sources

    Once a Pro-Nuker (PNP) starts spinning their lies, they will baffle you with some confusing nuke terms, then they will bust out some quantity prefixes like “tera” or “ferro” which not even engineers know, then they will move to the clincher argument…like, you know you get radiation just from sleeping next to someone, you know you get radiation from eating a banana, you know you get radiation from flying on an airplane. God save you if you are eating a banana in the mile high club!

    But this chart is good because it put those little lie in perspective, getting dosed with 20mSv is LARGE. One thing on this chart I disagree with from general knowledge is the green lower left which shows “Normal yearly ‘background’ dose” at 4mSv of which only 15% is supposedly medical scans. See my Largest Lies of Nuclear for a pie chart that shows a more accurate truth. I put the chart here so you can cross compare (see bottom)

    Archived at my anti-nuke blog
    http://nukepimp.blogspot.com/2012/01/guide-to-magnitude-of-radiation-sources.html


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  • Pallas89juno Pallas89juno

    and we don’t have “two decades”…


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