Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"IEA: Nuke retirements could lead to 4 billion metric tons of extra CO2 emissions"

I know I'm wading into a fiercely heated debate here, but simply as a matter of consistency, it seems like the degree you take climate change seriously should correlate strongly with support for nuclear power, at least for the next 20 or 30 years.

From Ars Technica

A report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns world leaders that—without support for new nuclear power or lifetime extensions for existing nuclear power plants—the world's climate goals are at risk.

"The lack of further lifetime extensions of existing nuclear plants and new projects could result in an additional four billion tonnes of CO2 emissions," a press release from the IEA noted.

Though politicians have said that nuclear power will be replaced by renewable energy, in practice that may be less likely to come to fruition. When New York state announced the closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant in 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he believed its power could be easily replaced by low-carbon sources of power by its closing date in 2021. But Platts Analytics says that most of Indian Point's 2GW will be "replaced with output from the newly constructed 1,100MW Cricket Valley and 680MW CPV Valley gas-fired power plants."


  1. IMHO it'd be more accurate that it should have correlated for the *last* 20 to 30 years.

    No problem keeping existing plants open, so no objection to the extension in this case. But new plants have long construction times, are economically questionable and take massive energy inputs to get off the ground. Money spent on them would almost certainly be better spent on renewables.

    Has there been any successful recent construction in the west? I know not meany are started, but the Finnish plant, to be built by the French (who should know what they are doing in nuclear) and Germans is now nearly two decades in construction (and 10 years behind schedule). These aren't lead times that make sense anymore.

    1. Not a lot I can argue with there -- the window where nuclear can help is at best closing -- but there is one point I might push back on.

      As far I can tell, most sequestration methods need lots of energy, and it looks like we've reached the point where some kind of carbon capture needs to be part of the plan. That might help justify another generation.