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A Plan for 100% Energy from Wind, Water, and Solar by 2050

Posted on 27 March 2011 by dana1981

We recently examined how Australia can meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020, and the Ecofys plan to meet nearly 100% of global energy needs with renewable sources by 2050.  Here we will look at another similar, but perhaps even more ambitious plan.

Stanford's Mark Jacobson and UC Davis' Mark Delucchi (J&D) recently published a study in the journal Energy Policy examining the possibility of meeting all global energy needs with wind, water, and solar (WWS) power.  They find that it would be plausible to produce all new energy from WWS in 2030, and replace all pre-existing energy with WWS by 2050. 

In Part I of their study, J&D examine the technologies, energy resources, infrastructure, and materials necessary to provide all energy from WWS sources.  They use the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates of global power consumption.  The EIA projects that by 2030, global power demand will increase to 17 trillion watts from the current consumption of 12.5 trillion watts, or an increase of about 36%.  This is the global energy demand that the J&D plan must meet by 2030.  J&D describe how they chose WWS technologies in their study:

"we consider only options that have been demonstrated in at least pilot projects and that can be scaled up as part of a global energy system without further major technology development.  We avoid options that require substantial further technological development and that will not be ready to begin the scale-up process for several decades."

"In order to ensure that our energy system remains clean even with large increases in population and economic activity in the long run, we consider only those technologies that have essentially zero emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants per unit of output over the whole ‘‘lifecycle’’ of the system.  Similarly, we consider only those technologies that have low impacts on wildlife, water pollution, and land, do not have significant waste-disposal or terrorism risks associated with them, and are based on primary resources that are indefinitely renewable or recyclable."

J&D note that these criteria exclude nuclear power from their study for two primary reasons.  Firstly, expansion of nuclear power to additional countries also increases the number of nations which are able to obtain enriched uranium for potential nuclear weapons.  Secondly, nuclear energy results in 9–25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, due to the mining, refinement, and transportation of nuclear fuel; the much longer time involved in building a nuclear facility (approximately 4 times longer than WWS facilities); and larger building footprint.  Additionally, the long planning-to-operation times for new nuclear power plants (11 to 19 years) make it an infeasible technology to rely on for a significant amount of new energy production by 2030.

For auto transportation, J&D propose a combination of battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars, and battery-hydrogen hybrids.  For ships, they propose the use of hybrid hydrogen fuel cell-battery systems, and for aircraft, liquefied hydrogen combustion.  The hydrogen fuel is produced through electrolysis using WWS energy.  J&D note that electric cars are 5 times more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles, so less energy is needed to fuel them.

For building water and air heating and cooling, J&D propose using air-and ground-source heat-pump water and air heaters and electric resistance water and air heaters.  These technologies are in existence today.

In terms of electricity generation, J&D find that the available supply could more than meet the global demand.

"Wind in developable locations can power the world about 3–5 times over and solar, about 15–20 times over."

J&D find that water will be a relatively small contribution to overall energy production, since wave power is only practical near coastlines, and most areas suitable for hydroelectric power generation are already in use.  Overall in 2030, J&D envision 50% of global power demand will be met by wind, 20% by concentrated solar thermal power, 14% by solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants, 6% by solar PV on rooftops, 4% each by geothermal and hydroelectric, and 1% each from waves and tides.  This will require a major construction effort – nearly 4 million 5-megawatt wind turbines, and nearly 90,000 300-megawatt solar PV plus thermal power plants, for example.  J&D note that we have all of the necessary resources and materials to meet these construction goals.

J&D also note that by transitioning to more efficient technologies (for example, battery electric vehicles over the internal combustion engine, electric heat pumps for homes, and solar thermal energy with storage to provide baseload power rather than fossil fuels and nuclear) we can actually reduce global power production by 30% compared to business-as-usual.  Even though global energy demand is the same in either case, effectively we will need to produce less energy because less is wasted through inefficient fossil fuel burning. 

In Part II of the study, J&D examine the variability of WWS energy, and the costs of their proposal.  On the positive side, J&D note that WWS technologies suffer less downtime than traditional power sources.  For example, the average US coal power plant was down 12.5% of the time for maintenance between 2000 and 2004, while wind turbines have a downtime of 0 to 5%, and commercial solar in the ballpark of 1%.  The downside is that sunlight and windspeed aren't very reliable.  J&D offer 7 suggestions for solving this problem:

  1. Interconnect the grid so that areas can be supplied with a mix of wind, solar, and water energy (often when the sun isn't shining, the wind is blowing, and water power is consistently available)
  2. Use a consistent source, like hydroelectric or geothermal, to fill the solar and wind gaps
  3. Create a smart grid to use energy most efficiently
  4. Use energy storage technologies
  5. Build more WWS than needed, so that there's still supply when wind and sunlight are low
  6. Use electric vehicle batteries as a storage medium
  7. Utilize weather forecasts to anticipate energy demands

J&D envision that a combination of most of these strategies will be used to ensure that there is always enough energy production to meet local and global demands.

As for costs, J&D project that when accounting for the costs associated with air pollution and climate change, all the WWS technologies they consider will be cheaper than conventional energy sources (including coal) by 2020 or 2030, and in fact onshore wind is already cheaper.  U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently agreed with this assessment.

To accomplish this major conversion to WWS energy, J&D note that it will require that governments implement policies to mobilize infrastructure changes more rapidly than would occur if development were left mainly to the free market, but that we have all the manpower, materials, technology, and resources necessary to make it happen.

"With sensible broad-based policies and social changes, it may be possible to convert 25% of the current energy system to WWS in 10–15 years and 85% in 20–30 years, and 100% by 2050"

As with the Ecofys plan, we are given a roadmap to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables in a timely fashion.  Again the question remains whether we have the will to make it happen.

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Comments 51 to 83 out of 83:

  1. Sean A #48 - we try to refrain from calling people "deniers" on this site, especially when they aren't denying anything. I've merely discussed a study (two now, actually) which puts forth a plan to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy without using nuclear. Now, you may have your doubts about these plans, and that's fine. But there's no need to be rude about it. I specifically outlined 7 ways in which the intermittency of some renewables can be addressed. Solar thermal can easily store energy, geothermal and hydroelectric can be used to fill in the gaps when wind or solar production are low. It seems like a perfectly plausible plan to me. I often find that people who are pro-nuclear are often unwilling to consider other alternatives, and that really puzzles me. There are a lot of good reasons not to want to rely on nuclear power, so if we don't have to, I don't see why we wouldn't explore other options.
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  2. Bern #50 "When you include carbon pricing at $150/tCO2, then solar PV is cheaper than coal right now. Given that it's projected to be cheaper than coal *without* carbon pricing by 2020, you'd have to be a mug to think a coal-fired plant is a good investment. Either that, or have a lot of friends in government who can keep up a supply of tax breaks, subsidies, and barriers to entry to keep other players out of 'your' market." A few comments needed here Bern. With PM Gillard and Prof Garnaut offering a carbon price of $25/tonne, and you suggesting $150/tonne to get Solar PV competitive, then one can see how tokenism works. With Australia contributing 1.5% or less of all CO2 emissions and the USA and China doing over 40% - the idea of saddling ourselves with a tax which has negligible impact on world temperatures (if one believes all of the CO2 effect is real), is patently adsurd. Your points about wholesale prices for coal fired generation remaining static and the 8 cent/kWhr increase paying for the distribution network are instructive. The distribution network can be hooked up to any generation source including feed-ins from anyone with a Windmill, Solar PV or Fumarole with an inverter. How incompetently the formerly Taxpayer owned utilities were privatized and split the generators from the distributors, is a whole other story. It is a tale of politicians setting up retailers to 'compete' against each other to supply you with power form the same pooled source. A nonsense of semi-regulation and lucrative $400K jobs for the mates retiring from State Parliaments and a trail of finance spivs and 'consultants' who conned the gullible into this brave new world of deregulation.
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  3. Ken L - please see CO2 limits will make little difference a.k.a. tragedy of the commons.
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  4. The plan spelt out in the article above sounds good, but in case I missed out on something, does it (this plan) allow for indefinite exponential economic GROWTH? GROWTH is the holy cow of modern industrial civilzation, never mind its inherent mathematical absurdity, to which all industrialists are effectively blind. If this plan DOESN'T allow for growth (and I don't see how ANY energy plan can), but assumes that our collective energy needs will instead 'flatten out' into a steady state by 2050, then how much appeal will it have for the head honchos around today? Also, to change to all that new technology, you'll still need oil to start with. Have we still enough left to make this change? On such a massive scale?
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  5. Ken Lambert: er, no, I never suggested you need $150/t carbon pricing to make solar competitive. I was saying if you factored in the externalities of carbon dioxide pollution, then you'd be looking at a $150/t carbon price, and if this was in place, all other generation technologies would be cheaper than fossil fuels. I'm not sure what carbon price is required to make current Solar PV cost-competitive with baseload coal generation. It may indeed be $150/t, it may be less. Given that coal for generation in Australia is "sold" to the generators for about a third of the going market rate, it's a complex question. In any event, more knowledgeable people than I are predicting that it will be cost-competitive without a carbon price within 10 years. If you then consider that Solar PV is one of the most expensive renewable energy sources out there, I think the argument for supporting expansion of coal-fired generation is kind of weak, to say the least. I do agree with what you say about the "privatisation" of the electricity infrastructure, though - if there was ever such a thing as a 'natural monopoly', then electricity distribution networks are it! K T: indefinite exponential economic growth is going to come to an end soon anyway, and the sooner the 'head honchos' realise that, the better... To conduct a ludicrous thought experiment: exponential growth being what it is, if current population growth rates continued, for example, we'd be down to 100m2 of land per person globally somewhere around the year 2500, down to 10m2 per person a bit after 2700, and down to 1m2 of land each by 2930 or so. By 2980, you'd need to share your 1m2 with another person. And that's not counting the loss of land area due to sea level rise. ;-) Given we are starting to have trouble feeding everyone with the 20,000m2 each we have now, that's obviously not going to happen without some amazing new food production technologies.
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  6. Bern at 15:00 PM, excuse me for butting in, I just had a spare moment, and something jumped out of your post, so I hope it hasn't been addressed earlier. In what way do you mean "Given that coal for generation in Australia is "sold" to the generators for about a third of the going market rate,". Can you provide some figures as it surprises me given our commitment to free trade.
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  7. "Can you provide some figures as it surprises me given our commitment to free trade." The commitment of Western nations to "free trade" is not as great as some would make out. If we were committed to free trade, then we wouldn't be so heavily subsidizing the cost of mining & transporting coal-by, amongst other things, giving the miners massive rebates on diesel fuel. Bern is correct that the domestic coal-fired electricity industry in Australia has greatly benefited from its 100% State Ownership & its virtual monopoly in the electricity market-which is why I find protests about subsidies for the renewable energy industry so hypocritical.
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  8. #46: actual thoughtful- we don't disagree, just mentioning that using solar heat in combination with a heat pump is reducing the CO2 footprint. Expensive is not the renewable electricity, expensive is getting it into your place through the old-fashioned type of distribution networks. Those networks do require so many regulations and securities from the generators of large scale power generation that it will increase the generation costs by a factor of two. Renewable energy (especially from wind and solar) have the additional disadvantages that is "fuel" supply is bad to control and (for biomass) that the power density is rather low (lots of moving of biomass to get your MW).
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  9. #56 Johnd, I'm no expert on coal price, but I think Australian generators would be supplied under long term contracts. Under such contracts, the price could well be a lot lower than the current "spot price" which would behave more like oil prices with rapid fluctuations due to things like supply disruptions (eg floods) and weather conditions (eg very cold winter). Incidentally, there is a trend towards the trading of a much higher volume of coal futures contracts. Whether this is a sign that we might be heading to more volatile coal prices in the future might be worth considering. Hopefully such volatility might be something of a disincentive to build more coal burners.
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  10. #48 Sean A. Without the hot air, well we need hot air as well for heating purposes (or cooling purposes). You will probably also know that about 50% of the energy in the fuel used for electricity goes up in to the air, as the hot air and into the cooling water requirements. Also large part goes away into the distribution lines. The general published figure of a 5% is the loss only in the high tension line (>= 69 kV), if it is transformed down to user level, the more likely figure is a 12%. About using nuclear plants: those are inherently bad in regulating their power output. Shuting down or going on-line takes days. Even a coal fired plant is doing much better with regulating measured in hours (5-6) instead of days. Those base-power plants do need a large grid to operate efficiently.
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  11. johnd: the effective price of coal for most power stations in Australia is, as far as I'm aware, the cost of digging it out of the ground. I believe there was a recent example in NSW where the state government sold the power station, but decided to continue to operate the mine, because no contractor would dig coal and supply it to the power station for the agreed price. I'll have a dig for the article, but from memory the price was ~$40/tonne supplied to the power station, compared to a market price for coal of $115-$118/tonne, if you were to deliver it to overseas buyers. Some of the other commentators could be right, though, a large part of the difference may be due to the spot/contract price differential.
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  12. Ger @ #60: nuclear plants can actually throttle their electrical power output very quickly, by blowing steam through condensers rather than through a turbine. Not having to pay for expensive fuel to generate the steam in the first place means it's quite economical to do this. It's also very fast - you can go from 100% to 0% in a matter of minutes (basically as fast as the electrical network will allow the shift in load to happen). I'm not sure how long it takes to ramp up load in that situation, but you're already generating the steam, so it's just a matter of opening valves to send more to the turbine. I understand that many reactors can actually be throttled quickly, too - on the order of hours. But I believe you're correct, in that it takes days to fire one up from scratch. Either way, there are still massive thermal losses between energy source and electricity consumer, as you pointed out. I'm with you, though - well-designed solar thermal can provide massive amounts of heat to individual homes, even in cold climates.
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  13. #60 Ger Nuclear power plants can be built to load follow. From the Areva web site: "Load follow: between 60 and 100% nominal output, the EPRâ„¢ reactor can adjust it power output at a rate of 5% nominal power per minute at constant temperature, preserving the service life of the components and of the plant." Obviously, running an NPP at less than maximum capacity factor is an economic decision, but it may be quite viable to a limited extent depending on the pricing mechanisms in the specific electricity market.
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  14. Bern #61: The other factor generally impacting coal prices (after "digging it out of the ground") is transport costs. Oil and natural gas can be transported through pipes and/or in and out of containers fairly quickly. Coal needs to be carted around by trains and trucks and requires big shovel loaders to load and unload. Thus, any time you can put the power station by the coal mine (as would apparently be common in Australia based on your example) it means much lower costs. Hence the 1/3rd market rate you refer to... coal from abroad would add massive shipping costs. Hawaii is probably the most extreme example in the other direction. Transporting coal across the ocean to Hawaii would be prohibitively expensive, so instead they have long gotten most of their electricity by burning oil... its higher extraction cost being offset by much lower transport costs. Fortunately they are now starting to shift over to locally generated renewable power, since it is now actually cheaper than getting any of the fossil fuels to the island.
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  15. Bern at 22:54 PM, you are exactly right. The market price of coal at the mine mouth is somewhat different to the market price FOB or CIF on a bulk carrier. As CBDunkerson at 23:43 also correctly points out, transport costs will constitute a increasingly sizable portion of the market price depending on where the transfer of ownership occurs. The market is presently demand driven in favour of the seller, however in times when the market is balanced or in favour of the buyer, coal delivered at a mine mouth could have a market price more resembling that of gravel where mining conditions allow low cost operations. Back in the 1990's, I recall learning that coal that was being mined in Wyoming's Powder River Basin and being loaded onto trains at the mine mouth for about $3/ton, or perhaps less, was still dearer landed at ports on the Gulf of Mexico, than similar coal mined in South East Asia landed from bulk carriers even though mining costs in SE Asia were higher. Such is the transport component of the market price.
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  16. Another new development, water 'battery': http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329134254.htm I have lost track of all these new ideas or improved ideas. I should keep a list! IMO if all these technologies were used wisely (a big ask for humans) we would have plenty of diverse sources and no real need for fossil fuels and a minor use of nuclear (until fusion is cracked).
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  17. dana1981, you have misunderstood my position. I'm not pro-nuclear, I'm for realistic energy plans that work. That means lots of renewables, plus at least some nuclear. I'm not one of those nuclear advocates who think renewables are worthless. I never thought I would ever become an advocate for nuclear power at all. But it is doubtful that we can reach a zero-carbon goal without a significant investment in nuclear technology. I'm skeptical of any plans that try to rationalize a way to achieve this goal without any nuclear. And next generation reactor designs are actually pretty good, reducing the waste problem and addressing safety/proliferation issues. Also, I see energy abundance as a boon for sustainable development that protects the biosphere and biodiversity.
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  18. Sean, how do you equate energy abundance with protection of the biosphere etc?? Energy enables humans to do more, which equates to using more resources. It may cut carbon emissions but I don't see how it would protect the biosphere in general. I don't think my footprint on the world would be improved by having 5 low carbon cars and abundant cheap low carbon energy to power them.
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  19. More energy would* enable humans to do more while using fewer resources. More recycling, less mining. More high-tech cities, less suburban sprawl. Lower transportation costs (all-electric vehicles and trains) without air pollution. Cheap desalination. Industry complains about the costs of implementing environmental regulations, but if the energy required is cheap and abundant, they have less to complain about. So I think the more energy we have, the better we can protect the environment. Even now, developed nations can afford to set aside and protect vast wilderness areas, while in the developing world, energy poorness promotes continuing damage to ecosystems, and contributes to the population problem. *We do need strong regulations and protections to go along with it though.
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  20. One future development that will be of particular help is infrared energy collectors. Idaho National Lab is working on micro-atennae that will pick up infrared energy leaving the ground at night and convert it into electricity. These could be placed on the underside of photovoltaic panels. This will give a 24 hour power source. Thanks for the critique of the wind scare story Mike - I didn't think it sounded v. credible.
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  21. The problem is that almost all of that is hypothetical. That is, we lack the technology to do that now. Smart grids may exist in time. We may be able to mass produce dams. We may be able to jack up the capabilities of solar and wind. We may have hydrogen cells. Even if we do get all of those, it may not be possible to even start implementing this until 2030 or further. Unless we want to cast everything to the wind and hope we can do it, it's reasonable to suggest building new nuclear plants until then. And equally reasonable that we let them live their lives out before decommissioning them. And what will we replace them with? Well, since we're talking hypotheticals, we could replace them with pebble-bed reactors (due out 2015), Generation IV reactors (2021), or even fusion reactors, due out by 2040, a decade before we rely entirely on renewables. This WWS future simply won't materialize.
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  22. Vladimer: "The problem is that almost all of that is hypothetical." If you had actually read the article you might have noticed the part about; "we consider only options that have been demonstrated in at least pilot projects and that can be scaled up as part of a global energy system without further major technology development." Renewable energy technology does not require further development to replace most fossil fuel use. The current state of development is more than sufficient and getting better rapidly.
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  23. I agree with CBD. The techologies are now proven. Storage is a problem but even that is capable of resolution. Really, the problems, in so far as they exist are cost-related. And really it is an infrastructure issue. We are faced with the sorts of costs associated with putting in place a motorway network or rail network, of that order. But once in place renewables are nearly all very cheap to run - wind, solar, tidal, hydro. Storage carries a lot of cost admittedly but it is not so much as to put a renewables solution beyond our grasp. We can deploy a range of renewables solutions: hydro, compressed air, methane production, hydrogen production, chemical batteries, molten salts... Look at what Germany is doing - making rapid progress towards 20% solar (7GW installed last year). Look at Denmark - nearly at 20% wind energy. Scotland is on target to reach 50% electricity generated by renewables from 2020. I think a 100% solution within 20 years is doable if we have the political will. Perhaps we need to find in the UK something like $60billion (this is a fairly wild guesstimate on my part). $3 billion a year. It's not a huge, huge sum in terms of our GDP. It is doable I believe. Of course if we paid for the infrastructure completely out of taxation, in later years we would still be generating income from the infrastucture which would offset the investment (or - to put it another way, a large part of your elec bill already goes into funding infrastructure investment).
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  24. CBD- Using that reasoning, we could use pebble-bed reactors in that equation, which are much more efficient than the WWS solution. Especially if you apply those to a nuclear scenario - that is, in-situ leeching powered by wind, transport vehicles powered by hydrogen cells, etc. Of course, presuming all scientific endeavors go on schedule, nuclear technology will have advanced greatly by the time this is implemented. Generation IV by 2021, fusion (!) by 2040. That's the future right there. Daniel Marris- Germany is so confident in their renewables program that they're building 26 new coal plants as I type this. And $60 billion is a lot, especially for the UK. You could build a lot of pebble-bed reactors with that kind of cash, in a much shorter time than it would take for you to convert to solar and wind, and you'd have the money back in a matter of months for each plant rather than a matter of years. Not to mention that you're probably undershooting the mark a bit.
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  25. Daniel Maris- As mentioned above, Germany is building new coal plants, and their renewables program is overloading their power grid. Denmark has vast offshore wind sources, which can't be replicated in many other regions. It's also worth noting that they have the highest residential electricity rates in the EU; feel free to compare them to France. Scotland accounts for 25% of renewable energy potential in the whole EU, and again their success will be a challenge to replicate in countries without such convenient resources.
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  26. #76: "Germany is so confident in their renewables program that they're building 26 new coal plants as I type this" I love these half-truths. Setting the record a wee bit straighter: Following the nuclear power plant accident in Japan in March, the German government decided to switch off seven of its oldest nuclear power plants until a safety review is completed. ... To fill the nuclear production gap, German utilities have ramped up coal-fired electricity generation ... "Until many more gas power plants are built and a lot more renewables are there, Germany is likely to rely on coal power plants that were initially to be taken off the grid in the coming years, So because of fear caused by a recent nuclear 'problem' (which you've conveniently forgotten), Germany will keep some coal-fired plants going until they can be replaced by gas and renewables.
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  27. Vladimer, first you falsely say that renewable energy sources like wind, water, and solar are not currently technologically advanced enough to replace fossil fuels... and that therefor we should not pursue them on the assumption that they will eventually become so. Then you turn around and say that radical advances in nuclear fission power and even fusion(!) power are right around the corner and thus should be the path we follow. I refer your argument 2 to your argument 1. Why go with technology which may become viable rather than technology which already is viable?
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  28. @muoncounter- They're planning them, not building them (I think). It seems they've been planning them for a while (http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/mar2007/gb20070321_923592.htm?campaign_id=rss_daily), but they aren't talked about very much anymore, except for the rare article and government paper. I can't find anything that says they canceled them, so I'm standing by my statement. @muoncounter- What I meant was that if we're going to talk about advances in renewable technology by 2030, we should also include advances in nuclear technology. And I believe that China was supposed to have a pebble-bed reactor commissioned in 2013, although I'm not sure. I still say that nuclear and renewables should work together. Again, renewables replacing many of the fossil fuels needed for mining, hydrogen cells for transport, etc. I've recently heard that it may be possible to produce pure hydrogen in a pebble-bed reactor, which could reduce reliance on oil. Also, Fukushima occurred because of the tsunami, not the earthquake. When the main power was cut, the diesel generators worked perfectly until they were hit by a wall of water. After that, the battery backups worked for the designed 8 hours. The problems arose when the switchboard area flooded and they couldn't hook up new generators. The easy solution to that is to build submarine doors and have an emergency backup power line buried underground to connect the plant to an emergency external source.
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  29. And I never said that fusion was right around the corner. I was saying that this WWS timeline was so long that we may even have fusion by the time it's completed. That was more of an offhand comment than anything else.
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  30. Vladimer K - Each country has to look to its own energy solutions. For huge swathes of the globe solar energy is an obvious and good solution. In the UK we are blessed (if that's the right word) with a lot of wind. We should certainly maximise that. But that's not the end of the story. We already have 16% hydro generation of electricity. That can certaily be increased with use of mini-hydro. Exploitation of tidal and ocean current with turbines could probably add another 20%. Energy from waste can deliver huge amounts of energy. Biofuels are another option. Geothermal as well. And wave will increasingly become important. In my view we've only see the beginning of exploitation of wind. There is lots of scope for urban wind generation with a new generation of wind turbines that are multi directional and operate at low velocities. Germany is also investing a lot in carbon capture. I don't know for sure but I think some or all of those new coal power stations may come in with carbon capture. Nuclear power is an inherently dangerous technology. If safeguards fail you are faced with a crisis that can remove huge numbers of people from their homes on a semi-permanent basis and take out huge swathes of productive land. It is also now very expensive. About twice as expensive as gas. You could have gas with carbon capture for the same price. We may have cold fusion before too long, if Rossi's claims are shown to be accurate (we shall see, I'm not saying I accept them). Hot fusion is a long way off. Cheap onshore wind power (costing less than nuclear) is here and now.
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  31. Daniel Maris- Certainly, the UK and other countries should exploit renewables to the best of their abilities. However, this 100% renewables goal simply won't materialize, and even if it does, the timeframe would've been so large that it would've been an idealogical reject-everything-that-isn't-renewable campaign that turns down other solutions (like nuclear), which would most likely take longer and cost more than using renewables and other solutions (like nuclear) combined. Let's examine the three worst commercial nuclear accidents: Tsjernobyl is what happens when you try to outcompete and outproduce a wealthier neighbor, and then shut down the cooling system in a testosterone moment. The United Nations Scientific Commitee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation places the death count (including cancer deaths) at 62 as of 2008 http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2008/Advance_copy_Annex_D_Chernobyl_Report.pdf Three-Mile Island resulted in zero deaths and was blown vastly out of proportion. Fukishima is what happens when you hit an old reactor with a level 9.0 earthquake and a 17-meter tsunami. The plant should've been decommissioned a decade ago, and none of Japan's 54 other nuclear plants had similar problems. And nobody died. Many reactors that are built today utilize what's known as passive-safety, in which the reactor can cool without mechanical failsafes. Several reactor types that use this include Integral Fast Reactors, pebble-bed reactors, pool-type reactors like TRIGA, certain breeder reactors, etc. Interestingly, India and China are doing much of the research for us; we'll see in 2030 whether their nuclear economies are superior to renewable economies.
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  32. Those are all good points Vladimer. I'd watch watch the Thorium designs in India and China with great interest.
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  33. If the government said to all the coal fired power stations that we have had enough. In 2 years time you are only allowed 85% of the coal you use today. The next year it drops by 15% and so on. In 10 years time there would be no coal fired power stations. Need to do the same with coal exports. Companies would see the forthcoming opportunity and invest madly and the whole country would be chock full of renewable power stations.
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