A post to a friend:
Building passive solar homes, retrofitting smart meters to a smart grid, creating smart devices that interact with signals from the smart-grid, and even building huge seawater hydro dam-batteries (because most new conventional river-hydro dams should not be built for local ecological reasons) all takes time. France increased their nuclear grid 73% in 11 years. That’s the kind of speed we need. Nukes will do a lot, but they’ll *only* shut down coal. We still need all that extra money to convert our transport fuels to ‘rechargeable’ batteries, hydrogen, synfuel, whatever. Here’s the kicker. I think it’s honest to say we’d be struggling to run our homes and industries on a 100% renewable grid. Just matching our electricity requirements to when the juice is flowing is hard enough. Trying to max out how much electricity we can use in the day, super-cooling phase change materials in the bedrooms to cool us overnight. (As the planet warms, we’ll need cooler rooms in summer or people die! Think Russia a few years ago, where 50,000 people died.)
Fuel becomes the question. *If* we have baseload reliable electricity, NREL USA have stated 85% of American driving could be recharged on existing overnight grid capacity.
We have a choice: either we experiment with a whole new society with smart grids, super-sized grids (to bring distant solar thermal and wind to where it’s used), smart appliances, smart homes, smart industries, all just so we can get stuff to work *overnight* on unreliable renewable electricity, or we can just swap coal for nukes and save all that experimental money to replace oil as well. I know where I’d put my money.