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NUCLEAR IS NOT “the only proven climate solution”

Is nuclear power “the only proven climate solution”?  Tree Hugger,  February 6, 2019, Instead of building giant concrete buildings filled with uranium, why not build smaller efficient buildings filled with people.

……Now Marc Gunther, who has been writing about environmental issues for years, puts his oar into these dangerous waters with a new article Nuclear power: A dilemma for climate change philanthropy. He’s worried about the organizations that are anti-nuke, like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and the philanthropists who support them. He quotes a book by Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist, who argue that “the only way to rapidly decarbonize the world’s energy systems is with a rapid rollout of nuclear power and renewable energy.”

……..    Nuclear is slow.

And then there is the question of scaling it up quickly. Reactors take a long time to build; the record is one in Argentina that took 33 years……

Nuclear is complicated.

But it is more like a bridge than a plane. It is the same argument I use when people liken building prefab housing to building cars; planes can be the same everywhere in the world. A nuclear plant is going to need different foundations, different water supplies, has different neighbours and different earthquake zones. It is hard to make them all the same. Fundamentally, they are not, and the reactor is only a portion of the cost; the rest is just a big dumb building, with few economies of scale.

Nuclear power may be carbon free but building nuclear plants is carbon intensive.  Then there is the embodied carbon of concrete and steel; a typical reactor might have 40,000 tons of steel and 200,000 tons of concrete. Production of that much concrete puts out about 180,000 tons of CO2, and making that much steel puts out 79,000 tons of CO2 which is a pretty big carbon burp for each power plant that these guys want to build……..

Nuclear is NOT the only proven climate solution.

No, nuclear power is not the only proven climate solution. If you look at where the electricity is going, fully 75 percent is into buildings, with 25 percent into industry. If you look at where our biggest problems are, it is not with electricity generation; coal is down to 14 percent. Focus on where the power is going, not where it is coming from. The real and proven climate solution is to reduce demand, to fix those buildings, which would cost a whole lot less than replacing half the US electricity supply with nuclear power, and a whole lot less time.

We don’t have time.

We continue to remind readers that the IPCC’s line in the sand is that we have to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to limit temperature rise by 1.5°C. If we all agreed to build a fleet of new reactors starting tomorrow we wouldn’t see the first of them online by 2030.

So instead of investing in giant concrete buildings filled with uranium that increase supply of electricity, why not instead invest in smaller, efficient wood buildings filled with people that reduce demand. And while we are busy building and fixing buildings, roll out more wind turbines and solar panels and especially, lots more batteries…….

February 7, 2019 - Posted by | general

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