Monday, 14 March 2011

Renewable energy will not be able to replace nuclear power

News agencies today - not surprisingly - report that the events in Japan are eroding the confidence in nuclear energy in many countries. Also there are reports about increased interest in renewable energy sources - which is not surprising either.

However, it should be understood that wind and solar energy are nowhere close to being able to fill the gap anytime soon - if ever - if the construction of new nuclear power stations is stopped:

There is a reason why less than 2 percent of the world’s energy currently comes from “renewable” sources such as wind and solar--the very sources that are supposedly going to power the new green economy: despite billions of dollars in government subsidies, funding decades of research, they have not proven themselves to be practical sources of energy. Indeed, without government mandates forcing their adoption in most Western countries, their high cost would make them even less prevalent.
Consider that it takes about 1,000 wind turbines, occupying tens of thousands of acres, to produce as much electricity as just one medium-sized, coal-fired power plant. And that’s if the wind is blowing: the intermittency of wind wreaks havoc on electricity grids, which need a stable flow of power, thus requiring expensive, redundant backup capacity or an unbuilt, unproven “smart grid.”
Or consider the “promise” of solar. Two projects in development will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar cells in the hope of generating about 800 megawatts of power (as much as one large coal-fired plant). But that power output will only be achieved when the sun is shining brightly--around noon on sunny days; the actual output will be less than a third that amount. And the electricity will cost more than market price, even with the life-support of federal subsidies that keeps the solar industry going.

Read the entire arcticle here.

The only sensible solution would be to intensify the shale gas revolution that has began in the US and Canada. There is enough shale gas and oil - together with traditional natural gas - in the world to replace nuclear power. Environmental questions should, of course, be dealt with, but governments should not let the greenies (who seem to think that electricity is coming from the the wall socket) dictate the policy.

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