Stop and Go: not seeing the beam in their own eye

A last short post on the Stop and Go-campaign to stop with nuclear energy and go for renewable energy. Besides the arguments of small share (within the primary energy consumption) and high price, two more (non-)arguments were given. The first one is:

Moreover, nuclear power is not a CO2-neutral energy source.

They explain that during energy production no CO2 emissions are produced, but it is however produced in the other stages of nuclear energy, like mining, enrichment, transport and so on. They said it is about 1/3 of the emissions compared to natural gas. That could all be true, but they didn’t compare it to renewables. I guess they assume wind and solar are CO2 neutral energy sources.

Well, do I have a surprise! wind and solar are not “CO2-neutral” either.

CO2 is produced in every step of the production/transport of windmills and solar panels. Just look at the numbers of life-cycle emissions according to the IPCC (2014):

Lifecycle CO2 per energy source (IPCC)

If we look at the median values, then nuclear is doing just fine. About the same as wind and much less than geothermal and solar. Additionally, there are the emissions that are produced by the backup plants that are spinning in the background and running at a lower efficiency, therefor using more fuel.

A last argument that the campaign used is:

The energy source that according to some should save us from climate change, can not deal with the heat of that climate change.

They explain that nuclear power plants having problems with heat waves in which they can’t cool fast enough. I have heard that one before. From what I remember: it has more to do with the regulations of the temperature of the disposed cooling water. Greenpeace and co are blowing it out of proportions by suggesting that nuclear plants have problems cooling during heat waves because the water they use for cooling it too warm. It is not that power plants stop working in case of a heat wave, but production will be temporally lowered and other sources will take over. Whatever, even if this would be an issue: heat waves are not a frequent occurrences in our region and will only happen in summer when demand for electricity is low anyway.

That is different for their favorites, wind and solar. These sources can not even stand the seasons, especially the cold season. Solar doesn’t produce much in winter because of the limited day light. Especially at peak hours (when consumption is highest) production of solar energy is zero. At our latitude it is still dark in winter at peak hours. Windmills are not immune for cold weather either, if temperatures go below freezing, problems can occur with windmills. In our region, renewables produce at their lowest level when consumption is highest (winter), while they produce at their highest level when consumption is lowest (summer) … and they have a problem with nuclear plants lowering production a couple days every 2 or 3 years while wind and solar consequently underperform every winter, especially at peak demand?

Final conclusion from these three posts on the Stop and Go-campaign: whatever they tried to argue being a problem with nuclear energy, was an even bigger problem with wind and solar. It is no different with these two arguments. By their own reasoning, if nuclear energy is not a CO2 neutral energy source, then what about wind and solar? Also, if it is such an issue that nuclear energy has to lower its production during a couple days with little demand every couple years, then what about solar and wind that under-perform EVERY single winter when demand is highest?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s