Nuclear superior to wind and solar


Future energy mixes should show a growing contribution from modern nuclear power plants. That is the core finding of the new “No Regrets Energy Policy” proposed by the Climate Intelligence Foundation (CLINTEL).

 CLINTEL finds current governmental energy-transitions to be “scientifically unfounded and economically suicidal” because of their dependence on wind and solar power generation.

 They put it this way:

 The optimum energy mix of different countries will be different, but they all have in common that the contributions of solar panels and wind turbines to the energy mix will remain marginal. Dependence on weather conditions and lack of proper energy storage cause fundamental bottlenecks. Decision makers must stop backing these lame horses.”

 CLINTEL’s basic point is that IF there is to be a transition away from fossil fuels, THEN it must be to nuclear power. Note that CLINTEL is not calling for such a transition, but they recognize that a lot of governments are. Whether this is sensible is not the issue in this article.

 Wind is especially unsuitable. “Wind turbines are getting bigger and bigger and their impact on the quality of the living environment is becoming more and more intense. They cause serious annoyance in the form of infrasound, moving cast shadow and landscape degradation. Wind turbines are totally unsuitable for densely populated countries and regions”, states emeritus professor Guus Berkhout, co-founder of CLINTEL, adding that “Thermodynamically speaking, wind turbines are unpredictable contraptions that should never be connected to a national electricity grid.

 Unlike the prevailing international commandments, the CLINTEL Energy Policy is very flexible. Here is their foundation statement:

 It is a hard fact that a country’s economy and level of prosperity are primarily based on the reliability and affordability of the national energy supply. That is why the first requirement of any energy transition plan should be to improve reliability and affordability and prevent any decline.

 Therefore, we should definitely not take any risks with our energy system. If the energy supply would fail, organizations in most sectors would be forced to put all their operations virtually on hold (industry, transport, safety, health care, drinking water supply, etc.).

A well-considered energy transition will therefore have to be innovative and led by true experts in the field of energy supply. Ideological agendas and subsidy-driven business models are literally life-threatening.

CLINTEL’s advice is to rely on natural gas as an excellent transition fuel. Meanwhile they say we should put all effort in preparing for the nuclear energy era. Future nuclear power plants are even more efficient, safer and cleaner than the current ones. The delivered electrical energy (and residual heat) is a low-cost security, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. CLINTEL expects that if we move thoughtfully from the fossil fuel era to the nuclear energy era, it promises “prosperity for all“.

Finally, Professor Berkhout warns that China will be extremely pleased if the Western World would continue to mess around with wind turbines and solar panels. It will accelerate their position as global economic leader. Considering the energy plans of the new American President, he concludes that Joe Biden’s climate plans are at Chinas beck and call”.

More broadly he thinks the real challenge to responsible, well considered views is now that of being heard. Here is how he puts it: “So far, governments, universities, scientific and engineering societies, big industries and billionaire clubs are all locked in political correctness and refuse any discussion. Actually, they all keep dissenting views out of the media. This means that CLINTELs battle is not only about climate and energy. Above all, CLINTEL is defending the fundamental freedom of speech and scientific inquiry.”

CFACT is here to help get these well considered views out to the thinking public.

  • David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.

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2 Comments

  1. Nuclear energy is a better way than grassroots renewables to commit graft, fraud, racketeering and money laundering for the nuclear industry and financial institutions heavily invested in the "privatise the profits and subsidize the risk" investment strategy. Other than that nuclear is the greatest business failure in world history and has left a legacy of irresolvable waste problems that will be the greatest hazard to life on earth for longer than mankind has been in existence.

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    1. For years, the solar and wind sectors have claimed that they no longer need subsidies because they are cost-competitive with hydrocarbons. And yet the ITC and PTC continue to be extended in the cloak of climate change to justify their unending attachment to the federal teet.

      The CRS found that tax credits for “solar and the production tax credit for wind have increased substantially in recent years. In 2018, tax credits for renewables, including the PTC and ITC, totaled $9.8 billion while the hydrocarbon sector collected about $3.2 billion. Meanwhile, the tax credits given to the nuclear sector, which produces more than 60% of America’s zero-carbon electricity totaled just $100 million.

      Energy production data for 2018 — which I converted into exajoules (EJ) (1 exajoule = 277,777.78 GWh) — was obtained from the BP Statistical Review. According to BP, in 2018, domestic production of hydrocarbons — coal, oil, and natural gas — totaled about 68 EJ. Nuclear production totaled about 7.6 EJ. Solar production was about 0.84 EJ and wind production was about 2.46 EJ.

      In 2018, as shown in the graphic, America’s nuclear sector received about $13.1 million in tax incentives per EJ while the solar sector soaked up $3.3 billion per EJ – or 253 times the amount given to nuclear. The wind sector got $2 billion per EJ, or about 158 times as much as nuclear. According to the CRS data, in 2018, hydrocarbon producers got tax incentives of about $47 million per EJ, or about 4-x as much per EJ as the nuclear sector.

      What these numbers show is the federal tax system has been drastically tilted in favor of 2 land-hungry, incurably intermittent sources of electricity that cannot, will not, be able to provide the vast amounts of energy and power that the American economy demands at prices consumers can afford. The PTC is the single most expensive energy subsidy in the federal tax code and will cost taxpayers about $40 billion from 2018 to 2027

      Congress is allocating yet more money for solar and wind even though America’s nuclear sector is producing about 2-x as much carbon-free electricity every year as wind and solar, combined.

      Environmentalists have long promoted renewable energy sources as better for nature. But a new study suggests that the expansion of mining for the materials to make solar panels and wind turbines may pose a greater threat than climate change to endangered species. “Most mining areas (82%) target materials needed for renewable energy production,” note the authors in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications. And, they add, “these new threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation.” Solar and wind projects require, on average, 300 - 400 times more land than a nuclear or natural gas plant.

      Nuclear waste disposal, although a continuing political problem in the U.S., is not any longer a technological problem. Most U.S. spent fuel, more than 90% of which could be recycled to extend nuclear power production by hundreds of years, is stored at present safely in impenetrable concrete-and-steel dry casks on the grounds of operating reactors, its radiation slowly declining.

      Mark Schneider is a nuclear futurist and the president of Gen IV Nuclear, Inc. He has a bachelor's degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology and spent 20 years working with advanced, small-scale reactors within the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power Program.

      As Mark related, "The biggest concern is what to do about nuclear waste. Our present reactors (light water reactors) use only 2 to 3% of the nuclear fuel put into them because of design inefficiency, the rest becomes waste." In Gen IV nuclear technology, as explained by Schneider, waste from present reactors becomes fuel. The Gen IV energy generation process also gets rid of any waste faster than would normally happen, and at the end very little waste remains. Generation 4 nuclear power is designed to safely shutdown if anything fails.

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