The Real War

The real war is not between renewables and fossil fuels, no, the real war is between renewables and nuclear.

This is somewhat ironic, because nuclear is one of the lowest CO2 emitting energies we have and so, in theory, renewable promoters should be fully on board with nuclear, but this is obviously not the case.

The reasons are very simple: 

1. Renewables need pairing fossil fuel power plants since solar and wind energy are intermittent and unreliable.
2. Even though, in theory, nuclear could be paired with renewables, it would make no sense whatsoever. Nuclear is better suited to produce 24/7 and besides adding renewables to a nuclear grid would increase CO2 emissions so it would be a lose-lose proposition (more expensive and higher emissions).

On the other hand, nuclear doesn't need renewables at all, what is more, they siphon funds that could have been better spent in additional nuclear capacity (if the objective is to reduce the CO2 intensity of a grid).

Thus, it is not surprising at all that renewable promoters spend inordinate amounts of effort attacking nuclear.

At the same time, it is not surprising either that nuclear promoters tend to attack renewables. 

Yes, whether we like it or not, renewables and nuclear are "natural" enemies. Appeasement will not work. This war will only get worse as the penetration of both increases in the energy marketplace.

The result of this war is, and will continue to be, a more gradual replacement of fossil fuels vs. the scenario in which renewables are dumped and nuclear gets most of the alternative energy investment.

The message this war sends is that humanity is not really in a hurry to reduce CO2 emissions. As always, acts speak louder than words.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter.


The Air Conditioned Office

As long as we have persons concocting "solutions" to world problems from the comfort of their air conditioned offices we will continue to see completely impractical or even absurd proposals.

My request to them is: come to the real world! Get your hands dirty. Speak with the people that are desperately poor. Ask persons all over which are their real priorities. Try to understand economics and get a modicum of knowledge respecting engineering.

If these reality insulated persons came to the real world, they would realize that climate change is hardly a priority for anybody.

Right. Their priorities are feeding, and educating their families. Increasing their standard of living. And yes, maybe even be better prepared for violent weather.

How do you achieve all of the above? By, among other things, having access to abundant, reliable, affordable energy.

Today, for the most part, energy with the above mentioned characteristics are mainly fossil fuels. Yes, eventually other energies will compete and grab a significant part of the market but that process may take decades, many decades.

At this stage no energy can be removed from the table, least of all coal. Today coal is the #1 source of electricity worldwide and the EIA projections maintain it in the top position at least through 2040.

Is there something worse than coal? Yes, absolutely. Worse than coal is bio-mass or no energy at all.

So, if coal is the best option today for India or other countries, let it be.


Team of Rivals

Why are many renewable energy promoters more anti-nuclear than anti-fossil fuels when in reality nuclear is one of the lowest CO2 emitting technologies we have?

Good question.

The reason is that renewables need a pairing fossil fueled power plant since on an annual basis, they produce only 10 to 20% (solar PV) or around 25% (wind) on average of their plate capacity.

The marriage made in heaven is that of renewables with pairing natural gas power plants. The natural gas plants can be easily modulated and thus are perfect for compensating for the fluctuating / unreliable output of renewables.

If a country commits to renewables what they are actually doing is locking in fossil fuel generating capacity for the long haul. Renewables do not reduce the need for fossil fuel installed capacity as at any particular moment their output will be zero.

Here a renewable promoter clearly states that wind and solar plants are really natural gas plants:


And what about nuclear?

Nuclear can stand on its own. It needs no pairing fossil fuel power plant and pairing renewables with nuclear wouldn't make any sense whatsoever (actually, CO2 emissions would rise if renewables were paired with nuclear power plants). Once you have the nuclear power plant, the most cost effective way to run it is 24/7/365. Sure, every so many months part of the nuclear fuel needs to be replaced, but this is scheduled for the most convenient times of the year. 

So, that is the reason renewable promoters hate nuclear. Once you consider the system nuclear is the truly low CO2 way of generating electricity and nuclear does not need renewables at all. On the other hand renewables not only need fossil fuels, they are actually "gas plants."

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter. Thank you.