Professor Barry Brook spanks the Power down movement as unrealistic below. First of all he updates us on what’s happening in the nuclear renaissance.
Despite what some may like you to believe, the nuclear renaissance is upon us. Don’t let anyone get away with telling you otherwise — they are badly misleading you. Indeed, given that the real-world facts are so readily available, one really does have to wonder how long these ideologues imagine they can pull the wool over the eyes of the public? Do they really care about fixing climate change?
What is happening now
The bastion of atomic energy over the next two decades will be Generation III reactors, despite the enormous medium- to long-term promise of Generation IV (as I recently explained, here). This is not idle speculation -– it is already happening in the world’s fastest-growing economies. At the time of writing this blog post, over 65 of these modern nuclear reactors are under construction (or nearly so). Twenty-three new nuclear power plants are being built in China alone, which is targeting 70 gigawatts of extra nuclear power by 2020. In addition, there are serious plans in China for two sodium-cooled fast reactors (BN-800) of the “Generation IV” design, following the completion of the first Russian unit in 2012 — the sort of reactor that some people think ‘don’t exist’.
How about this for some supporting statistics: 29 new reactors, totalling 26 gigawatts of electricity output (operating at high capacity factors without the need for energy storage/backup), will start operation in 13 different countries in the 2010 — 2012 period – that’s within the next 3 years (average reactor size is 880 MWe). Of course, this new-generation nuclear deployment rate must continue to accelerate if we’re to have any realistic chance of completely replacing fossil fuels by 2050, but it’s a great beginning!
Then his 2nd last paragraph of the book Why V Why then debunks the whole Power down movement.
It’s time to embrace nuclear energy as a core technology in the carbon-free revolution that the world needs to address climate change.
Many environmentalists believe the best low-carbon solution is for governments to guide us back to simpler, less energy-consuming lives, a vastly less consumer-oriented world. That is unrealistic. The world will continue to need energy, and lots of it. But fossil fuels are not a viable option. Nor are renewables the main answer. There is no single solution, or “silver bullet”, for solving the energy and climate crises, but there are bullets, and they’re made of uranium and thorium, the fuels needed for nuclear plants.
It is advanced nuclear power that provides the technological key to unlocking the awesome potential of these energy metals for the benefit humankind and for the long-term sustainability of our society and the environment on planet Earth.
If that isn’t clear enough, try his summary page on Renewable Limits (where he agrees with Ted Trainer that renewables can’t run the modern world, but as you’ll see below, disagrees with Ted’s conclusions).
3. The developing world lives in Ted Trainer’s power-down society already, and they are going to do everything possible to get the hell out of it. The developed world will fight tooth an nail, and will burn the planet to a soot-laden crisp, rather than embrace Trainer’s simpler way. Power down is a non-solution to the climate and energy crises.
I’m just glad that an outstanding climatologist is finally brave enough to call the environmental and peak oil movement on the way it actually is out there: people want a convenient, modern lifestyle: full stop! I’m just glad we have the technology to give it to them. Caveat: I still think we need a revolution in city planning around New Urbanism principles, and am not arguing for sustaining suburban sprawl or other horrors of today’s era. We can keep the best and chuck the rest. And in our shiny, high-tech new Ecocities and New Urbanist villages, I think the next generation will look back at today’s bland, characterless, socially alienating and car dependent suburban sprawl, and shudder in revulsion.