Nuclear Energy Hopeless as Climate Change Solution

I just read the “Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012” published in July and authored by Mycle Schneider and Antony Frogatt. Thanks to this Tweet by Energywende Germany for the link.

Anybody who still believes nuclear energy might have something to contribute to climate change mitigation is well advised to have a look at the about 99 pages of hard facts this report presents.

Knowing these facts, it would be highly irresponsible to count on nuclear contributing much to the effort of dealing with climate change. Renewable energy will have to solve the problem without any such contribution.

The stakes with climate change are big. All life on the planet might become impossible over Venus syndrome.

Facing that risk, a reliable and sure solution is needed. The only thing one can count on with nuclear is its further decline.

Related post: Nuclear climate bailout unlikely, March 13 2012

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

7 thoughts on “Nuclear Energy Hopeless as Climate Change Solution

  1. It scares me when I hear renewable fanatics claiming they can solve the worlds energy and environmental problems in one fowl swoop. They say things like “Don’t worry about the fact it isn’t possible now, just have faith and shut down all nuclear and coal”

    Stephan Kohler, the head of the German Energy Agency, said in an interview in November 2012 that “when a new wind farm is opened and we’re told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply — that is, at every second, and with constant voltage — is indispensable. Neither solar nor wind power are suitable for that purpose today. Both fluctuate and provide either no secure supply or only a small fraction of a secure supply. Solar energy has a load factor of about 1,000 hours a year. But there are 8,670 hours in a year.” 

    When told that on some days solar power is already enough to supply all of Germany with electricity Kohler responded “Photovoltaic systems are distributed across hundreds of thousands of small power plants, which sounds nice. But when the sky is blue over Germany, these hundreds of thousands of decentralized plants act like a single, large power plant. All of the sudden we have 30,000 megawatts coming into the grid, which, in many cases, we can’t use.”

    Kohler also stated “In the 1970s, they believed that there is an annual 6-percent linear increase in the demand for electricity. That number was used to estimate how many nuclear power plants had to be built. It was also the reason I went to work for the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko Institut) in Freiburg at the time. I thought the calculations were fundamentally wrong. Today we have a solar and wind euphoria, instead of a nuclear euphoria. We believe that there will be a 10-percent decline in electricity consumption by 2020. And, once again, we assume that this change will be linear. But I’m sure that we’re probably going to be wrong this time, too.”


    1. I am aware of the Kohler interview, having blogged about it:

      He did bring up the standard anti-renewable propaganda talking point of “intermittency”, though he refrained from using Rod Adams’ “unreliables” term. That’s not worth noting. Everybody paying attention knows that’s wrong.

      In contrast, he actually got one thing right, which is more than to be expected from anything published at SPIEGEL by Neubacher:

      “Nowadays, solar systems are often in operation around noon, when there is high demand for power and the price was high in the past. As a result, conventional power plants can no longer make enough money, which is why existing plants are being shut down and no new ones are being built.”

      That is one reason I think nuclear is not compatible with renewable (another one being the anti-renewable propaganda people like Rod Adams and Barry Brook are doing all the time). Renewable in the mix ruins the economics of nuclear, which explains why pro-nuclear voices are trying to trash renewable even when they understand the dangers of global warming.


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