“If the economics can be made to work, geothermal would provide a renewable energy source that’s always on, and that employs plenty of ex-oil and gas workers, to boot. That has been its promise for decades. Maybe the 2020s will end up being the time that promise is finally fulfilled.”
“the White House has invested heavily in sustaining the country’s nuclear infrastructure, and President Joe Biden has also touted nuclear as an important component in the country’s quest for carbon neutrality. Many countries are following the same path based on similar climate calculations, and some experts support this position. “Nuclear is actually one of the cleanest and safest energy sources,” Kharecha says. For countries that want to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution, he says that nuclear energy should be embraced — at least until better options come along.
But environmental advocacy groups and left-leaning American voters have traditionally opposed nuclear power. And, despite the president’s efforts, recent Gallup data suggest this is still the case: Less than half of Democrats back nuclear, compared to 62 percent of Republicans.”
“The Chernobyl meltdown captivated and horrified many Americans. But while the US shuddered, Germans suffered directly from the disaster’s fallout. It wasn’t just a question of tainted milk. Radioactive particles drifted across much of the German landscape. Sandboxes were nicknamed “death boxes.” Contamination turned up in meat, vegetables, fruits, and foodstuffs produced all over the country, and frightened parents didn’t know what to feed their children. Some experts estimated that hundreds of thousands of people on the continent would eventually develop Chernobyl-related cancers. That didn’t come to pass, but recent government analyses of German wild mushrooms found that 95 percent of samples still contained radioactive contamination from Chernobyl, and the residue of that disaster has likewise soaked deep into the nation’s views on nuclear power.”
“There are some unimpeachable justifications for opposing nuclear energy. There’s the risk of a catastrophic accident, first and foremost, and also the problem of storing or disposing of nuclear waste.
“From our point of view, it’s not right to say nuclear is a sustainable technology,” says Kopf, the Greens politician. “You need uranium, which is not extracted in an environmentally friendly way, and there is no real solution for nuclear waste.”
However, when making energy trade-offs, these risks must be balanced against the harms associated with the use of non-nuclear energy sources — such as air pollution and CO2 emissions produced by fossil fuels. According to estimates from Our World in Data, nuclear is cleaner and safer than any power source apart from solar. The number of deaths caused by either accidents or air pollution as a result of nuclear power is estimated to be just 0.03 deaths per terawatt-hour of energy produced. That is far, far below the 18 deaths and 25 deaths per terawatt-hour associated with oil and coal sources, respectively.”
“A fourth reactor is also nearing completion at the site, where two earlier reactors have been generating electricity for decades. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday said radioactive fuel could be loaded into Unit 4, a step expected to take place before the end of September. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter commercial operation by March.
The third and fourth reactors were originally supposed to cost $14 billion, but are now on track to cost their owners $31 billion. That doesn’t include $3.7 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners to walk away from the project. That brings total spending to almost $35 billion.
The third reactor was supposed to start generating power in 2016 when construction began in 2009.
Vogtle is important because government officials and some utilities are again looking to nuclear power to alleviate climate change by generating electricity without burning natural gas, coal and oil.”
“The proposed rules are a less elegant and splashy solution than the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, but the complex set of proposals also stands a better chance of withstanding court scrutiny. The EPA breaks down requirements based on the type of plant, its size, and how often it is in use. Utilities, working with states, would ultimately decide how to meet the EPA’s emissions rates by choosing among available technologies. Coal plants, for instance, could fire less carbon-intensive fuels such as hydrogen and gas, to supplement coal. Coal and gas plants can also install carbon capture and storage or sequestration, a technology that removes carbon dioxide at the smokestack to eventually store it underground. Or a plant could bypass all this if it sets a retirement date in the medium term.
As a result, existing coal plants would cut their carbon pollution 90 percent by the end of the decade, unless a plant sets a retirement date before 2040. Existing gas plants get more leeway — only the largest gas plants, less than a third in operation, will have to slash their pollution by 90 percent by 2035.
The EPA makes a dent in coal pollution especially, but it doesn’t eliminate power plant pollution entirely. It leaves a mixed bag of winners and losers.”
“The European researchers behind the new study do an in-depth analysis of how much land and sea area it would take to implement the Net Zero by 2050 roadmap devised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2021. The IEA outlines an energy transition trajectory to cut global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels to zero by 2050. The Net Zero goal is to keep the increase of global average temperature below the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the late 19th-century baseline. “This calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy,” notes the IEA.
The Scientific Reports study finds that implementing the IEA’s roadmap requires that much of the world’s agricultural and wild lands be sacrificed to produce energy. Biofuels, both liquid and solid, are especially egregious destroyers of the landscape. On the other hand, the energy source that spares the most land is nuclear power. In addition, electricity produced by fission reactors is not intermittent the way that vastly more land-hungry solar and wind power are.”
“wind and solar projects occupying massive amounts of land increasingly get NIMBY pushback from disgruntled neighbors. Energy analyst Robert Bryce, author of A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations (2020), has compiled a database showing that nearly 500 renewable energy projects have been rejected or restricted over the past decade.
The European researchers calculated that nuclear power plants sited on just 20,800 square km (8,000 square miles) of land could supply all of the carbon-free electricity demanded in 2050. That’s less land than is occupied by the state of Vermont.
Over at Tech Xplore, study co-author and energy conversion researcher at Norwegian University of Science and Technology Jonas Kristiansen Nøland points out that “the spatial extent of nuclear power is 99.7% less than onshore wind power—in other words, 350 times less use of land area.” He adds, “An energy transition based on nuclear power alone would save 99.75% of environmental encroachments in 2050. We could even remove most of the current environmental footprint we have already caused.””
“While the BLM took longer than anyone else to approve the project, the TransWest Express line suffered from “a ‘spider web of jurisdiction’ across multiple levels of government,” according to Roxane Perruso, the company’s COO. Perruso told EnergyWire, a trade publication, that the project required approvals from state, local, and federal entities—and getting those permits required surveys of over 40,000 acres of land for environmental impacts and 60,000 acres of land for cultural impacts.
All that to get permission to build a power line, which is less invasive than other forms of infrastructure can be. In addition to the BLM and state governments of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, the project needed approval from the U.S. Forest Service, part of the federal Department of Agriculture, and the Western Area Power Administration, which is part of the federal Department of Energy. (In fairness, EnergyWire notes that the project also got snagged by disputes with some private property owners along the planned route.)
With all the permission slips finally locked down, construction on the line will begin later this year, and the 3,000-megawatt line could be operational by 2028, EnergyWire reports. By then, it’ll be 23 years since the project was first proposed in 2005.
To put it simply: It should not take nearly a quarter century to build a supply line connecting renewable electric supply with an area where there is growing demand. But this is a recurring problem in America. A recent Princeton study found that 80 percent of the potential emissions reductions from green energy projects funded by the Inflation Reduction Act would be lost without an expansion of transmission lines.
The time and expense of permitting have slowed or prevented some major renewable energy projects in recent years. “Windmills off Cape Cod, a geothermal facility in Nevada, and what could have been the largest solar farm in America have all been blocked by an endless series of environmental reviews and lawsuits,” Alec Stapp, a co-founder of the Institute for Progress, which advocates for policies that accelerate technological and industrial progress, wrote last year in The Atlantic. “U.S. climate spending could exceed more than half a trillion dollars by the end of this decade—but without permitting reform, those investments won’t translate into much physical infrastructure.””