Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Michael Hogan's weak case for renewables

Michael Hogan Added a couple of comments to my Breakthrough Institute post on The Energy Collective.
Mark Jacobson's work at Stanford is not particularly credible and I would not recommend it. The two most robust system analyses I would point to are:
Roadmap 2050: A practical guide to a prosperous, low-carbon Europe (first phase published 2010, phase 2 published 2011 and phase 3 due to be published later this year), carried out by KEMA, Imperial College London, McKinsey & Co. and Oxford Economics under the sponsorship of the European Climate Foundation and in close coordination with the European Commission, with active involvement from a broad group of industry, academic and NGO stakeholders. This study analysed objectively a full range of decarbonization scenarios, from one that relied on a relatively limited role for renewables to one in which renewable provided 80% of Europe's annual electricity production.

Renewable Energy Futures (October 2012), carried out under the auspices of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory by an extended team of stellar national laboratories, respected expert consultancies and in consultation with a broad swath of industry, academia and NGOs.

These are serious and robust studies. They do not claim that any of this is easy - to paraphrase one of my favorite lines from "The Princess Bride", anyone who tells you any part of this is easy is selling something - but they do demonstrate that various pathways, including pathways involving high shares of variable renewable production, are entirely feasible and affordable without the need for dramatic technological advances, as desireable as such advances might prove to be. Each of them has self-acknowledged gaps and further work that should be done, but that is simply to be expected. It does not negate the fundamental insights they provide.
Note that Hogan is dependent upon black boxes to back up his arguments.  Note that the topic under discussion is the potential of Advanced Nuclear Technology for lowering nuclear costs.  Hogan offers us a series of reports that have nothing at all to do with nuclear technology.  Do the Reports even tell us how much the 80# renewables scheme will cost?  If not we have no basis for judging whether renewables will cost less than nuclear power, what is the point of talking about renewables?

Once again we have a renewables advocate diverting attention from the case for nuclear power, while not offering any factual evidence.

1 comment:

Andrew Benson said...

Hey, at least he admits that Marc Jacobson is full of shit! That's a good start!

I think what renewables-only people are trying to imply when they re-direct a conversation in this manner is: "Guess what? We don't need nuclear! There's no reason to even consider it. We can just forget about nuclear." The possibility that nuclear can be made safer and cheaper is sort of lost on them. They're just really excited about renewable energy.

I think the appropriate response to this line of thinking is turn their assumption on its head: "Why do you care about renewable energy? Nuclear energy can solve the climate problem by itself."

The best answer, of course, is that it doesn't have to be one or the other. An "all of the above" strategy will maximize the opportunity for markets to work their magic and minimize the cost of solving the climate problem.


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