Friday, July 01, 2016

Environmentalists shut down clean power

Michael Shellenberger writes in a NY Times op-ed:
CALIFORNIA has a reputation as a leader in battling climate change, and so when Pacific Gas & Electric and environmental groups announced a plan last week to close the state’s last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, and replace much of the electricity it generates with power from renewable resources, the deal was widely applauded.

It shouldn’t have been. If the proposal is approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, California’s carbon dioxide emissions will either increase or decline far less than if Diablo Canyon’s two reactors, which generated about 9 percent of the state’s electricity last year, remained in operation. If this deal goes through, California will become a model of how not to deal with climate change. ...

Nearly every time a nuclear plant has been closed, its energy production has been replaced almost entirely with fossil fuels, including in California. In 2012, when the San Onofre nuclear plant closed, natural gas became the main replacement power source, creating emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent to putting two million cars on the road. ...

But California already has more solar power than it can use. This is one of the justifications given for closing Diablo Canyon. On sunny days, California solar farms have had to shut down, lest their added generation overwhelm the grid. ...

If Diablo Canyon is closed, California’s dependence on natural gas is likely to become dangerously high. The share of power that California generated in-state from natural gas rose to 60 percent, from 45 percent, between 2011 and 2015, partly because of the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant, and could easily rise further without Diablo Canyon.
If you think that global warming is a problem, then you should be in favor of nuclear power. It is safer, cleaner, and cheaper than natural gas.

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