Tag Archives: IPCC

Environment

G7 Endorses Nuclear Energy to Stabilize Climate

By Romeo St. Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

This week’s G7 leaders’ meeting in Germany made the future energy direction of the major industrialized nations clear.

The leaders have pledged to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.

“Mindful of this goal and considering the latest IPCC results, we emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century,” the leaders’ declaration stated.

The communiqué included a road map to this very long-term goal.

“And we will work together and with other interested countries to raise the overall coordination and transparency of clean energy research, development and demonstration, highlighting the importance of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies. We ask our Energy Ministers to take forward these initiatives and report back to us in 2016.”

While renewable energy is specifically mentioned, you would have to read between the lines to realize that nuclear energy is on the table as one of the low-carbon technologies the leaders were referencing.

However, a quick glance at the G7 energy ministers’ communique from May of this year shows that the energy ministers themselves have already made it clear that nuclear is part of the solution.

“We support the enhanced use of energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as other domestic resources (including nuclear energy, which can work as a base load energy source, in those countries which opt to use it),” the energy ministers concluded.

Their statement reaffirms the direction the leaders gave at their summit last year. Their 2014 communiqué used the same language: “We will promote the use of low carbon technologies (including) nuclear in the countries which opt to use it…”

As the CNA has always argued, renewables and nuclear are both important pieces of the future long-term, low-carbon energy puzzle. Wind, solar, hydro… they’re actually partners with nuclear energy in stabilizing the climate.

In an article on the popular Energy Collective website last April, energy consultant Jesse Jenkins called for a dialogue aimed at ending the divisions in the two camps – divisions often seen daily on social media.

Jenkins’ column was the social media energy sphere’s equivalent of the Rodney King “Can We All Get Along” speech.

“Maybe renewables and nuclear can learn to get along after all. Maybe they won’t offer competing visions for a low-carbon power system in the end,” Jenkins concluded in a hopeful tone.

After this week’s G7 meeting, the debate about Nuclear v. Renewables in the future is a step closer to be resolved. It’s not one or the other, either or. It’s both.

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Germany Replaces Nuclear with Coal, GHGs Skyrocket

German flag

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

In 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a plan to close all of the country’s 17 nuclear plants by 2022 and to generate 80 percent of Germany’s electricity from renewables by 2050.

Many environmentalists and anti-nuclear types viewed this Energiewende (“energy transition”) as good news.

But Germany’s green Energiewende is producing one big not-so-green result – a return to coal.

Replacing nuclear power quickly with renewable energy has proven difficult, mainly due to renewable energy’s primary weakness – intermittency.

The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. When wind and solar are not available to generate electricity, power buyers need another source. For Germany, that means more coal.

In 2013, Germany’s electrical production required a 44 percent rise in coal power. In fact, coal represented 45.5 percent of Germany’s power output, its highest level in 20 years.

Expect those numbers to rise, because Germany is building more coal plants, and expanding old mines. Progressive publications have taken notice. Mother Jones recently ran a profile of a German town first settled in Roman times that faced the threat of being bulldozed aside to make room for an open-pit coal mine.

While German greenhouse gas emissions fell between 1990 and 2010, they have risen since the chancellor’s 2011 announcement. This places Germany out of step with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the European Union. Both are demanding drastic GHG cuts in order to prevent severe climate change.

In 2013, Germany’s carbon emissions rose 1.8 percent, while European Union emissions fell 1.3 percent.

Not surprisingly, The Economist described the Energiewende as more like “a marketing slogan than a coherent policy.”

And the Energiewende hasn’t only increased the amount of atmospheric carbon Germany is producing. It’s increasing consumers’ power bills.

The annual increase in residential electricity rates has accelerated since 2011 when the Energiewende went full throttle. The annual increase is now seven percent, compared with 4.3 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to Eurostat.

The long-term results of the Energiewende experiment are not known. For now it stands as a cautionary tale for governments thinking about replacing low-carbon nuclear energy with carbon-creating fossil fuels.

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UN Experts: Triple Nuclear Energy

UN

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

In discussing climate change, politicians and media often speak of the need to increase “renewable energy” sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Not to get bogged down in semantics, but it would be more accurate to say that we need more “clean energy” sources. Clean and renewable don’t mean the same thing. For instance, nuclear isn’t renewable – the Earth has finite but extensive uranium resources. But nuclear is unquestionably a source of low-carbon electricity, and offers real potential in slowing down the concentration of climate-changing carbon in the atmosphere.

For example, did you know that nuclear power has the approval of the United Nations’ climate change scientific advisory body?

In April of 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended tripling the amount of energy use from renewable energy and nuclear power in order to keep climate change within safe limits of two degrees Celsius.

The report recommends a massive transformation of energy policies, including calling for 80 per cent of electricity generation to come from low carbon sources, such as nuclear and renewable, by 2050.

“At the global level scenarios reaching 450 ppm (target for CO2 in the atmosphere) are also characterized by more rapid improvements in energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from renewables, nuclear energy AND fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) OR bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050,” the IPCC report states, as it clearly includes nuclear as part of the clean energy mix.

“Nuclear energy is a mature low-GHG emission source of baseload power, but its share of global electricity generation has been declining (since 1993). Nuclear energy could make an increasing contribution to low-carbon energy supply, but a variety of barriers and and risks exist,” the IPCC added.

The IPCC report is meant to offer guidance to policymakers.

Not surprisingly, nuclear is a part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s climate-change mitigation plan.

“The president continues to see nuclear energy as an important part of a diverse energy portfolio, and it’s part of his goal of doubling the national share of electricity from low-carbon energy sources by 2035,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a 2013 speech to the American Nuclear Society.

For what it’s worth, Ontario is already well down this road. Its Long-Term Energy Plan calls for more renewable power sources – while continuing the province’s strong reliance on nuclear energy.