The Weekend Wonk: Germany Moves to Exit Coal Sooner, While Expanding Renewables, Cutting Nuclear

October 15, 2021

Video above should start at 55:24 with a talk by Amory Lovins.


A potential new SPD-lead German government wants to abandon coal as a power source eight years earlier than planned, a move that would be a big win for the planet but a challenge for a country already struggling with energy supplies.  

“In order to reach the climate goals, an earlier exit from coal-fired power is needed, ideally by 2030,” the parties wrote as they set out basic principles for an alliance. 

Details of how Europe’s largest economy plans to shed its reliance on coal will be hammered out in formal talks between the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Free Democrats set to start as early as next week. An accelerated expansion of energy from renewable sources like wind and solar is likely to be part of the plan. 

Amory Lovins in Beyond Nuclear International:

The view that climate protection requires expanding nuclear power has a basic flaw in its prevailing framing: it rarely if ever relates climate-effectiveness to cost or to speed—even though stopping climate change requires scaling the fastest and cheapest solutions. By focusing on carbon but only peripherally mentioning cost and speed, and by not relating these three variables, this approach misframes what climate solutions must do.

The climate argument for using nuclear power assumes that since nuclear power generation directly releases no CO2, it can be an effective climate solution. It can’t, because new (or even existing) nuclear generation costs more per kWh than carbon-free competitors—efficient use and renewable power—and thus displaces less carbon per dollar(or, by separate analysis, per year): less not by a small margin but by about an order of magnitude (factor of roughly ten). As I noted in an unpublished 17 Aug letter to The New York Times:

[The Times’s 14 August] editorial twice extols “wind, solar and nuclear power” as if all three had equal climate benefits. They don’t. New electricity costs 3–8 (says merchant bank Lazard) or 5–13 (says Bloomberg New Energy Finance) times less from unsubsidized wind and solar than from nuclear power. Renewables thus displace 3–13 times more fossil-fueled generation per dollar than nuclear, and far sooner. Efficiency is even cheaper, beating most existing reactors’ operating costs. Competing or comparing all options…saves more carbon.

Thus nuclear power not only isn’t a silver bullet, but, by using it, we shoot ourselves in the foot, thereby shrinking and slowing climate protection compared with choosing the fastest, cheapest tools. It is essential to look at nuclear power’s climate performance compared to its or its competitors’ cost and speed. That comparison is at the core of answering the question about whether to include nuclear power in climate mitigation.

The “pro” discussion is also almost invariably focused entirely on the supply-side. Yet the International Energy Agency notes that, in 2010–2016, three-fourths of the world’s decarbonization came from energy savings. IEA also says renewables in 2010–20 decarbonized the world five times as much as nuclear growth did, but when the “pros” compare nuclear only with renewables, they are leaving out the cheapest half (or more) of the solution space—using energy more efficiently.

For example, the US in 2020 used 60% less energy per dollar of GDP than in 1975, and during that period, cumulative savings were 27 times the cumulative increase in supply from nuclear plus renewables. Looking forward, RMI’s Reinventing Fire (2011) rigorously showed how to quadruple the efficiency of using US electricity by 2050, at historically reasonable speed, and at an average cost one-tenth the cost of buying electricity today. That study’s findings have nicely tracked the decade of market evolution since, while the efficiency potential has considerably increased

A common myth often repeated is that renewables use far more land than nuclear power. This is corrected in my technical paper — Renewable Energy’s ‘Footprint’ Myth. Solar land-use is actually comparable to, or somewhat less than, nuclear’s if you properly include the nuclear fuel cycle, not just the power plant it supports. 

Windpower’s land use in turn is 1–2+ orders of magnitude smaller than solar’s. A recent Bloomberg report, though it provides a more nuanced treatment, surprisingly botched this comparison, having been misled by a report from a Koch-funded “think tank” whose dodgy provenance Bloomberg may not have realized and did not mention.

The “pro” discussion is further confused by muddled mentions of batteries and hydrogen—just two of ten proven carbon-free resources for balancing largely or wholly renewable grids. Widely cited studies purporting to show that largely or wholly renewable power supply is impossible or at best very costly generally omit most or all of the other eight options. My recent article, Twelve energy and climate myths, dispels the common misconceptions implicit in this point of view, and should also help to dispel a common mischaracterization of what happened in Germany and Japan. Two slides from my EESI brief tell that story from the official data:

Germany’s nuclear phaseout (purple), agreed two decades ago and set to conclude next year [2022], accompanied major fossil-fuel reductions (red) and increased power exports (teal). These three shifts were offset by electrical savings (aqua) plus renewables (green), while the economy grew and total greenhouse gas emissions fell 53%. In 2020, windpower alone outgenerated coal plus lignite. Germany’s power sector met its 2020 climate goal a year early (before the pandemic) with five percentage points to spare.
Japan’s utilities replaced lost nuclear output (red) largely with fossil fuels (black) while national policies suppressed renewables (especially windpower) and shielded legacy assets from competition. More than a third of Japan’s nuclear capacity has closed, and most of the rest remains in limbo as utilities’ credibility and financial strength ebb. Yet in nine years after the Fukushima disaster, renewables (green) plus savings (blue) displaced 150% of Japan’s lost nuclear output if adjusted for GDP growth, 108% if not adjusted. Thus Japan’s old nuclear market vanished before more reactors could restart—if restart had a business case. In the first three-fourths of the current Fiscal Year, nuclear and fossil fuels fell even faster as renewables grew to 23% of Japan’s generation—the official target for ten years later [22–24% in FY2030]

39 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Germany Moves to Exit Coal Sooner, While Expanding Renewables, Cutting Nuclear”

  1. jimbills Says:

    Plans are great. But here’s today:

    Germany: Coal tops wind as primary electricity source

    In the first half of 2021, coal shot up as the biggest contributor to Germany’s electric grid, while wind power dropped to its lowest level since 2018. Officials say the weather is partly to blame.

    Germany ‘set for biggest rise in greenhouse gases for 30 years’

    Increase means country will slip back from goal of cutting emissions by 40% from 1990 levels

    They’re going to have to build a lot more renewables to cover both the nuclear and coal phase outs.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Those unprecedented floods in western Germany were in and around traditional coal country. I wonder if that will affect attitudes among those clinging to coal.

  2. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Self righteous wankers pontificating along fashionable memes whilst the world fries towards environmental bluddy catastrophe!

  3. WTF is Amory Lovins smoking? Nuclear has a bigger land footprint than solar? That’s pretty startling news! You’d think he’d want to give a few more details than just a link to an Elsevier paper abstract that also offers no details.

    • Don Osborn Says:

      The comparative footprint — including the entire fuel cycle — has been looked at many times with the same result. Fossil fuels have the greatest footprint, nuclear next, then central solar (by a bit compared to nuclear), then wind and the distributed solar. See various studies from US National Labe (Brookhaven, Argonne, NREL) among others.

    • You seem to lack the ability to read for comprehension.
      This quote and link from Amory Lovins appears in the article

      A common myth often repeated is that renewables use far more land than nuclear power. This is corrected in my technical paper — Renewable Energy’s ‘Footprint’ Myth. Solar land-use is actually comparable to, or somewhat less than, nuclear’s if you properly include the nuclear fuel cycle, not just the power plant it supports.

      Windpower’s land use in turn is 1–2+ orders of magnitude smaller than solar’s

      So the question becomes “What has Dombroski been smoking?”

      • Keith McClary Says:

        A version of the paper:

        Click to access 2011-07_RenewableEnergysFootprintMyth.pdf

        (4 pages with 4 pages of footnotes!)

        • Thanks for that link (download or whatever) Keith. I was dying to know what kind of weaselcraft Lovins was employing here. Here’s the operative paragraph:

          For example, Stewart Brand’s 2010 book Whole Earth Discipline cites novelist and author Gwyneth Cravens’s claim that “A nuclear plant producing 1,000 megawatts [peak, or ~900 megawatts average] takes up a third of a square mile.” But this direct plant footprint omits the owner-controlled exclusion zone (~1.9–3.1 mi**2). Including all site areas barred to other uses (except sometimes a public road or railway track), the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear cost guide says the nominal site needs 7 mi*2, or 21× Cravens’s figure. She also omits the entire nuclear fuel cycle, whose first steps—mining, milling, and tailings disposal—disturb nearly 4 mi**2 to produce that 1-GW plant’s uranium for 40 years using typical U.S. ores. Coal-mining to power the enrichment plant commits about another 22 mi**2 -y of land disturbance for coal mining, transport, and combustion, or an average (assuming full restoration afterwards) of 0.55 mi**2 throughout the reactor’s 40-y operating life. Finally, the plant’s share of the Yucca Mountain spent-fuel repository (abandoned by DOE but favored by Brand) plus its exclusion zone adds another 3 mi**2. Though this sum is incomplete, clearly Brand’s nuclear land-use figures are too low by more than 40-fold—or, according to an older calculation done by a leading nuclear advocate, by more than 120-fold. [footnotes removed and superscripts replaced with **s denoting square miles to make it readable and hoping enough carriage returns were removed]

          So he’s larding the plant site with an exclusion zone which is somehow supposed to use the land up, but of course he says the land between wind turbines is perfectly useful. Try putting a house under one. BTW they can also throw ice, but I suppose that only affects the spot where the ice hits.

          His big claim is that the fuel cycle is what really gobbles up land. He has a 1 GW plant going 40 years needing a suspect 4 square miles for all the various uranium processing. If you had a lot more plants, couldn’t this add economies of scale? The real kicker is 22 square miles for the coal to power all this uranium processing. Don’t you also need coal to build solar panels and wind turbines. As the saying goes, “you can make windmills with steel, but you can’t make steel with windmills”. And what does China use to power all its solar panel making industry. They use coal. In fact, high quality coal is an ingredient for PVs as shown by Ozzie Zehner in Planet of the Humans. It should be mentioned that the Chinese save on coal use by having Uyghurs crush the quartz by hand. It looks to me like all this coal electricity used to process uranium could be replaced with more nuclear plants.

          He says solar doesn’t use land because it can be put on roofs, But that’s not what’s usually done and you can’t put CSPs on roofs. The reason it’s usually put in big farms is that that’s more economical than rooftop PV. He has no problem whining about nuclear’s economics.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            What a trip! Dombo talking about people being deceptive!

            Yes, solar’s mining etc. should also be taken into account. But it’s orders of magnitude smaller; first smaller in capital cost footprint, then near-zero for the rest of the facility’s life while fossil and fissile fuels go on taking up an ever-expanding stain of wrecked land, water, air, and bodies. Especially as their EROEI continues to shrink. There will come a time when all support will be provided by EVs and RE. (In Norway and Iceland, maybe 2023.) And whatever happens with batteries there will come a time when so much is being recycled the amount needed to be mined will drastically decrease. Can’t do that with coal.

            Wind turbines and their logistical bits do indeed take up about 2% of the land they’re on and the rest can indeed be used for other things, unlike removed mountain tops, spent uranium mines, tar sand wastelands, etc. But most wind power will probably end up coming from offshore wind, since the turbines are so much bigger, more powerful, and have a much higher capacity factor. Actually all the energy the world needs could be provided by offshore wind using today’s technology, on a tiny fraction of continental shelves. And since the lunatic right wing psychopaths won’t be able to stir up as much FUD about it. Probably. You never know about them and their disturbed moronic acolytes.

            Solar can not only be put on roofs, it can be put in water, including oceans, and on pumped storage and other reservoirs; over farms, on buses, trains, other vehicles. Soon it will be paintable on virtually any surface, windows covered with transparent collectors.

            PV and wind can go on roadways, over parking lots, land wrecked by fossil and fissile fuels, and eventually in exclusion zones like the 1000 square miles given up to the 2 worst nuke disasters so far.

            All the land needed to provide solar for the world.

            And of course we need to keep in mind that since both solar and wind power have improved so much since these maps were created, and since they continue to improve, less than half of each of the solar and wind areas shown would be needed now with today’s technology. It will keep shrinking in the future. Add a considerably smaller area besides for all the mines, processing, etc. Meanwhile an alternate future of nukes would require an ever-expanding area for the reactors, mining, processing, waste storage, and ever-accumulating post-disaster exclusion sites and hospitals and waste-repository cemeteries for their victims.

            And then there’s hydro, geothermal, tidal, and small amounts of clean safe renewable energy with different rhythms.

            CSP will probably never be more than a small part of solar, which is only part of the mix of clean safe renewable energy we need. And it works best, by far, out in places like the Sahara, the Atacama, the Gobi, and the Outback, where by sacrificing a tiny part of a place with minuscule biodiversity, vast areas can be provided with power. With pumped storage fortified by PV, and cheap, ecologically benign batteries like iron-air etc. there may not even be much call for CSP. If the nuke trolls don’t like those areas being temporarily occupied, they should look more honestly at their own pet projects’ effects. But of course, they don’t care about those areas, it’s just one more way of trying to split the left by lying about something. You know, what they do.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Similarly, with today’s tech, all the energy the US uses could be provided by solar on about 2½-3 times this square including access roads and porta-potties. It’s half the area currently leased in the US by the oil and gas industry and a fraction of what they’ve wrecked in the US and elsewhere, so far, for US energy. (Ask Donziger and the Ecuadorians.) Note that coal and tar sands for US energy take up space as well.

          • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

            Solar can be put over reservoirs (reduces evaporation as well), sprawling factories, highway clearance, livestock pasture, some crops, and parking lots in bloody hot central Texas. Even small installations can provide energy discounts (and even income) for landowners and businesses.

            Wind farms are often sited in farm country in the midst of crop and livestock fields. AFAIK, the biggest “security” issue of wind turbines is BASE jumpers breaking in to get to the nacelle, so there’s no need for an exclusion zone.

            Waterless solar and wind can also be sited in more places than thermal plants, including remote villages and islands.

  4. John Oneill Says:

    Amory Lovins was pushing coal as a bridge to renewables forty years ago, and telling us that by 2000, we’d all be driving carbon-fibre hydrogen hypercars.
    The fact is that Germany burns far more coal, per head or per unit of GDP, than France, which built nuclear, or Britain, which built wind and kept nuclear ( and drilled for North Sea gas.) The construction of nuclear plants in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden took about fifteen to twenty years, and gave those countries a reliable source for a third to eighty percent of their power. Germany’s ‘renewables’ generation figures include burning a lot of wood instead of coal, with higher CO2 emissions in the short term, and dubious savings in the long term. Their net exports and imports, in nearly every case, raise the average carbon footprint of all the surrounding countries, except for Poland. As in most western economies, part of their demand reductions has involved exporting industry to Asia, where most of the power comes from coal.
    Japan’s grid is isolated, unlike those in Europe, so surpluses and shortages cannot be mitigated by flows across the border. Even worse, the Japanese grid is split into two parts, one at 50 Hz and the other at 60, which makes exchange difficult even nationally. After the Fukushima meltdowns, the government instituted high feed-in tariffs, which resulted in a lot of solar being built, but demand is much less variable than solar production. Most of the nuclear plants have been forced shut by local governors, court action, or stringent demands for new safety systems, so the power companies have to keep coal and gas running to keep the lights on after sundown. At noon yesterday, solar was producing 44% of Shikoku island’s power, nuclear 37%, and fossil fuels the rest. Six hours later, power demand was exactly the same, solar output was zero, nuclear was still making 37%, and the emissions per kilowatt-hour had nearly tripled. Emissions were only below 200 grams CO2/KWh for five hours. France, with twice the percentage of nuclear at peak demand, was below 70 g/KWh for 24 hours.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Started right off with a ridiculous lie and went downhill from there, as usual.

      I’d like to see the references to Lovins’ advocacy for coal. It’s even more absurd than the people who for years have claimed he was advocating for gas, just because THEY couldn’t see how to do 100% clean safe renewable energy. They put the words in his mouth instead of being honest and saying it themselves. Nothing’s changed. The anti-evolution trolls and the climate-denying delayalist trolls and the anti-renewable fanatic trolls. So boring. All the SOS. FLICC

      With his 1976 Foreign Affairs article on Soft Energy Paths, and subsequent book, Lovins set the stage for the current ability of the world to prevent climate catastrophe.

      The trolls ignore the fact that Germany is the 4th largest economy in the world, more industrialized than France, with a much bigger ICEV industry, and is beset by psychopathic coal magnates and unions and the same kind of impossible reprehensible state politics that keep the US from making any progress on anything. They, and let’s not forget, the conservative government that just lost power, have kept Germany burning dirty lignite coal, even while progressives did what they could and at least got hard coal mines closed and got huge amounts of wind and solar built in the least sunny major country in the world with not much hydro. What Germany has done with everything against them is remarkable; what the US has done with phenomenal clean safe renewable potential and money to burn is pitiful and disgusting, and the trolls here keep reminding us with the vast constant sewage flow of lies they spew, why.

      The trolls are using the usual tactic of endlessly delaying the building of clean safe renewable energy then criticizing renewables’ ability to do the job because there’s not enough of it. One might think they’re just unconscionable little weasels, but truth is they’re scared little children, or worse, as Paul Shepard pointed out in Nature and Madness, caricatures of scared little children

      Japan can and almost certainly will connect to the mainland, despite itself.
      The trolls always look at snapshots and either think, or more likely pretend they think, they’re stone engravings. The solution in all the cases they criticize is obvious:


      Connect to larger grids. Electrify primary energy and create a V2G system. Add demand response and increasingly cheap storage. Make everything more efficient, from heat pumps to high speed rail. Radically equalize. recognize and begin to heal the psychological illness at the root of all our problems.

      • John Oneill Says:

        ‘I’d like to see the references to Lovins’ advocacy for coal.’
        Here you go – it’s second hand, ’cause I can’t be arsed reading ‘Soft Energy Paths’ myself. (I suspect Lovins was influenced by Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’ – Schumacher worked for the British Coal Board for twenty years.)
        ‘Lovins predicted that by the year 2000 wind and solar energy – “the soft path” – could shoulder a large portion of the nation’s energy demand and by 2025 the transition could be complete. In the meantime we would need a “bridge fuel” to carry us over so that nuclear would be unnecessary. That bridge fuel was coal. Lovins argued that the new “fluidized bed” process of burning pulverized coal could keep air pollution to a minimum. (Concerns about carbon emissions and global warming had not yet surfaced.)

        Lovins’ book-length version of this case, Soft Energy Paths, found its way to the desk of President Jimmy Carter and became the blueprint for Carter’s energy policy. The President chose coal over nuclear since America was the “Saudi Arabia of Coal.” He promised to double our coal consumption to a billion tons by 2000, a prediction that also proved correct. In the early 1970s coal was being phased out in favor of nuclear because of air pollution concerns. But the Lovins-Carter axiom made nuclear “the road not taken.”’

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Ho hum. Another post by one of the frequent flyer trolls, another citation of a lying right wing fossil fuel funded denying delayalist POS resource. Planet of the Corrupt Liars, Selloutenberger, Bjorn McBorgerson, John Stossel, fer cryin out loud! Funding by Koch, Exxon, ALEC…all the usuals.
          Fakecleanenergy houses Robert Bryce, Chief Propagator of Lies about clean safe renewable footprint, and lots of other fossilized right wing liars for hire.

          “RealClear Foundation has received millions in dollars from right wing megadonors including over $2.7. million from the secretive DonorsTrust and $1 million from its sister group Donors Capital Fund. Other funders include the Thomas W Smith Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.”  

          “RealClear brand has been pretty plainly corrupted by the Koch cash it’s received, and is regularly running denial content by people with obvious financial reasons to promote fossil fuels.

          “At this point, it seems like they’re proud of it. In the last week they’ve run: a piece attacking California and defending Trump on wildfires, written by Death’s PR man Steve Milloy; a piece praising natural gas by a guy from a Koched-up wing of George Mason; an anti-renewable energy screed by an “anti-science propagandist” and anti-wind activist John Droz Jr.; an anti-China and anti-climate take by Rupert Darwall, longtime denier and now a senior fellow at RealClear Foundation; a pro-gas piece by the CEO of the American Gas Association (AGA); and an argument in favor of Gulf oil drilling, by the head of the Consumer Energy Alliance, a group Geoff Dembicki exposed as a Koch et al front back in 2011 (see his recent VICE piece about Big Oil tapping Big Tobacco’s lawyers to defend themselves in court!)

          “Each of these pieces (except for Dembicki’s, which are excellent) contains a slew of errors and misrepresentations that any legitimate news organization should be embarrassed to publish. And each of them was signed by someone who has a very-hard-to-miss financial bias in favor of fossil fuels and against renewables, for whom even cursory google searches reveal what should be disqualifying conflicts of interest.

          And then jfon pointlessly tries to slime 2 brilliant people who stood for and said true things. Just the opposite of the constant oozings from the trolls.

          • John Oneill Says:

            So ‘Soft Energy Paths’ didn’t call for fluidized bed coal after all ?
            ‘ The nation is on a hard path, he says, warning of a society
            enslaved by its own demand for hard energy: huge coal
            conversion plants producing synthetic oil and gas instead of
            clean-burning “fluidized-bed” combustors consuming coal right
            in the factories where the heat is needed.’

            Click to access Energy-Strategy-The-Road-Not-Taken-Reprint-from-Foreign-Affairs-1976.pdf

            Lovins’ statistics for how ‘soft energy’ was ramping up always included ‘combined heat and power’, which in most cases – Denmark, for a big example – meant coal. Never mind that it still made a lot of CO2. Never mind that, even if the windmills were working, the Danes had to keep burning coal or they’d freeze. Never mind that nuclear plants in Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Czechia and China have run combined heat and power without any direct emissions at all.
            Who was the other brilliant person I slimed ?

          • J4Zonian Says:

            1. Not what I said.
            jfon should stop trying to put words in my mouth and leaping to conclusions. And using straw people. And lying.
            (Like I haven’t told him or her all that before…

            2. So before, s/he not only couldn’t be bothered to cite any support for the assertion it seemed like a point of pride, and now here it is in stunning detail. Should we count that as a fall?

            3. “in most cases” means not in all. Is it possible jfon has no idea how many?

            4. But I’ll grant that Lovins did not know what was going to happen 40 years ahead. And he was naive about some things, and wrong about some, as I said in the part of my answer I cut out. People are like that; even the brilliant ones are wrong about some things. Although we might have hoped that a physicist and world-renowned energy expert would have known more about climate catastrophe at that point, apparently—presumably because of the decades-long campaign of lies by the same people and organizations jfon gets his or her manipulating rhetoric from—he didn’t.

            5. No defense, I notice, of the egregious piece of coprolite jfon did cite. Of course there is no defense, any more than there is with all the other egregious pieces of coprolite jfon cites, but it makes me wonder why s/he bothered with it in the first place, even though we know there’s nothing credible s/he could cite to support the unsupportable assertions s/he makes. So no other choice, I guess.

            6. Maybe jfon does it on purpose to take an impotent dig at 1 of the 2 energy sources making him or her feel powerless (the worst! thing a desperate power-addicted nook boosting reactionary can feel) at the moment, but let me point out the ignorance anyway. As much as I’d like jfon to keep looking petty and stupid, s/he seems to manage that no matter what anyone else does. Unless the Denmarkians are grinding an inconceivable amount of grain out there in the Skagerrak, they’re not windmills, they’re wind turbines.

            7. And let me point out yet again, that since the right wing fossil- and fissile-fueled ARFs and denying delayalists have done everything they could to stop the building of clean safe renewable energy (the only sane way out of our crisis) for them to say, imply, intimate, insinuate, or otherwise suggest now, that renewables can’t supply what’s needed,


            is, given the stakes, simply evil.

            And pretty stupid.

            They’re wind turbines.

          • $2.7 million here. $1 million there. These don’t seem like outrageous sums for think tanks or advocacy organizations. Jeff Bezos just gave $10 million to Amory Lovins’ Rocky Mountain Institute and $41 million to Mark Jacobson’s Solutions Project:

            Jeff Bezos Gives Big Green to Big Green

          • John Oneill Says:

            ‘…we might have hoped that a physicist and world-renowned energy expert would have known more about climate catastrophe at that point..’
            If a physicist is somebody who earned a degree in physics, Lovins is not one – he was too busy with Friends of the Earth to finish his degree (though he’s been showered with honorary ones since.) As the first article I cited notes, Mark Jacobson has taken over the leadership of the ‘Anything But Nuclear’ alliance, although their solutions to the ABN problem are diametrically opposite. Lovins claimed that electricity was inherently inefficient, and it was better to generate energy in situ, from anything small, including biomass and coal. Jacobson says electricity is inherently more efficient than anything else, can be generated anywhere and transferred to where needed in timely fashion, with minimal storage, and he doesn’t want a bar of biofuel or any other kind of combustion.
            Somebody who did have a good grasp of what increased CO2 might entail was Alvin Weinberg, who, with Eugene Wigner, invented the light water reactor, and subsequently developed the molten salt reactor. Alvin Weinberg was born in Chicago in 1915 and earned his PhD in physics in 1939 from the University of Chicago. His master’s thesis dealt with the infrared absorption spectrum of CO2, presaging his later efforts to warn of global warming.
            ‘Lovins ..served on the National Petroleum Council, an oil industry lobbying group, from 2011 to 2018.’ (Wikipedia).’ His message of the inevitable march of efficiency, cheaper renewables, and business friendly solutions, a la Tony Seba, is a nice bedtime story, but hasn’t had much effect on cooling the climate.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Amory Lovins … forty years ago…

      I’m missing something here: Is this meant to address whether or not it is currently cost-effective to spend money on nuclear power plants over the alternatives (wind, solar, different time-classes of storage, etc.)?

      The 1980s do not represent realistic construction time for nuclear power plants (outside of authoritarian countries) today. Even Emperor Xi’s China is starting to have trouble developing total-cost-effective nuclear power plants.

  5. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Nuclear has a bigger footprint than solar, Trump is the greatest president of all time!

    So it is written, so it is true.

  6. The real world does not seem to agree with Amory Lovins:

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Making a big deal out of the fact that for a brief period Hinckey might be made to look not quite as much like the completely corrupt fuck-up that it obviously is, is a clear sign they’re desperate to get their obsequious PR licks in before it becomes clear again that the contracted price is a travesty foisted on the public by a shamelessly dishonest government-corporate cabal.

      The price of wind and solar will continue to drop. Hinckey will continue to rise in cost and be ever-longer delayed. And only by stopping clean safe renewable energy from being built and then falsely blaming renewables for what fuels have done they think they’ll be able to stave off their building enough to push the nucular turkey through despite all the extra things wrong with it. (More even than all the other useless, dangery nukes.)

      Clean safe renewable energy was not the problem in Texas, not the problem in India, not the problem in Europe or China. I get why right wing lunatics like Schellenberger and the other breakthrough boys keep lying about it, because most people don’t know any better, right wing media just performs as their megaphone, and they can get away with it over and over and over.

      The question is does the fact that the trolls here keep lying to a bunch of people who obviously do know better make them stupid, arrogant, insane, or all of the above?

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Denmark and Germany have increased both the reliability and democracy of their grids as they increased the amount of clean safe renewable energy on them, especially wind. Germany, 47% RE, and Denmark, 47% wind, are about the 2 most reliable and democratically-owned grids in the world. We know that’s not just a coincidence because the same thing has happened in other grids, along with a decrease in price relative to non-renewablized grids.

        Add clean safe renewable energy, get more reliability, democracy, and savings. Seems like a good deal.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        It appears the world does agree with Amory Lovins; just not nook-boosters-for-hire like Shellenberger.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Two years later, lack of wind triggered today’s energy crisis.

      In those two years we could have been as much as 20% into the construction of a new nuclear power plant, and the price would only have gone up a billion or two!

      BTW, besides the unexpected drop in windflow, a very large component of the European energy crisis is related to fossil fuel use, including automobile petrol and home heating fuels. Europe has major political problems in getting either natgas from Putin and economic problems paying higher prices for US LNG now that China is sucking it all up. I just see this as accelerating the adoption of seasonal energy storage technology other than fossil fuel (strategic natgas or petroleum reserves).

  7. Roger Walker Says:

    In a nutshell: “If nuclear power has neither business case nor climate benefits, it falls at the first hurdle.”

    • It looks to me like nuclear has proven its business and climate benefits case. It’s electricity costs half of what it does in neighboring Germany and only produces a tenth the CO2. There’s no wind and solar graph that looks like this:

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        A lot of France’s nuclear plants are reaching retirement age. Constructing new nuclear plants in the modern day seems to be a problem for France:

        The Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is located at Flamanville, Manche, France on the Cotentin Peninsula. The power plant houses two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that produce 1.3 GWe each and came into service in 1986 and 1987, respectively. It produced 18.9 TWh in 2005, which amounted to 4% of the electricity production in France. In 2006 this figure was about 3.3%. At the time, there were 671 workers regularly working at the plant.

        A third reactor at the site, an EPR unit, began construction in 2007 with its commercial introduction scheduled for 2012. As of 2020 the project is more than five times over budget and years behind schedule. Various safety problems have been raised, including weakness in the steel used in the reactor. In July 2019, further delays were announced, pushing back the commercial date to the end 2022

      • J4Zonian Says:

        There’s Dombo,

        telling lies again.

        The fossil- and fissile-fueled right wing has spent tens of billions on the endless running jackalpack of right wing PR firms masquerading as think tanks; buying media (not just Faux, WSJ, Forbes, et al, but too many climate denying delayalist and ARF op-eds in WAPO to count, nearly a thousand radio stations in the US, (plus billboards) owned by just 2 extreme right wing corporations), and spreading conservative talking points, then taken up by every single corporate media outlet in the US; financing ultra-conservative politicians; and the far right takeover of the US by stealing elections, through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other tactics.

        Then bizarrely confusing nuke electricity with France, (?!?) ‘its’ with ‘it’s’, and cherry picking through Germany’s electricity prices like all the trolls, ignoring that it has different rates—wholesale, residential, etc. Some are fairly high while others are average or below, courtesy of cheap clean safe renewable energy. Germany also has 1 of the 2 most reliable and democratized grids in the world. (The other is Denmark, half powered by wind—2nd in the world behind Scotland at 69% wind.)

        Throughout the world, higher percentages of clean safe renewable electricity are associated with lower prices, including in the US. States adding wind to their grid have declined in price relative to those that haven’t.

        And of course there are hundreds of wind and solar graphs that look like this:

        NEW ENERGY

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Every one of the big fast increases in low-carbon power that started after 2000 has been renewable energy. The 2 biggest were hydro, and 3 of the biggest 6. Seven of the biggest 15 were renewable and 23 of the biggest 43.

          I’m beginning to think Dombo is a false flag operation to make conservative ARFs and nook boosters look as idiotic as possible with just enough provocation to encourage others to inform readers. Hell, I’ll go along with that.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Lots more where these came from.

          And many more to come.

        • Thanks for catching the typos. 😬

          That graph I like to post is from Wikipedia and it is of the electricity mix for the whole of France. All those wind and solar graphs are just incremental increases that don’t show the whole mix. They have not gotten past the intermittency cliff to supply a whole sizable country. When you do have large percentages of wind in places like Iowa or Scotland, they are part of a much larger grid.

          Throughout the world, higher percentages of clean safe renewable electricity are associated with lower prices, including in the US.

          What’ve you been smoking?

          States adding wind to their grid have declined in price relative to those that haven’t.

          Got a citation. If true, do these states with increased wind also have increased gas? Do states without increased wind have increased solar?

  8. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    A big problem with all of these high-falutin’ discussions of energy policy is that terms like cost are used as if it’s a shared metric. In the real world, you have to address cost to whom. Private investors? Utilities? Ratepayers? Governments (with respect to subsidies)? Regions? Industries?

    Choosing to invest in solar farms instead of nuclear power plants is a cost to the construction industry.

    Choosing to stop built-in subsidies for fossil-fuel is a cost to ratepayers that still depend on utilities which still depend on natgas peaker plants or coal plants. Shutting down these plants before the end of their financed/depreciated life means investors eat the cost of a stranded asset and natgas or coal companies lose another consumer of their product.

    Choosing to stop an offshore wind farm is a cost to those makers of scary-big transport equipment.

    Choosing to invest in onshore wind turbines is a great psychological cost to False Premise. 😉

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