Monday, October 27, 2014

The Nuclear Gap In Obama's Clean Power Plan

The Canadian Nuclear Association and Wind Concerns Ontario are both cited in a Forbes commentary pointing to the substantial studies that should be heeded to correct the poor EPA/NRDC proposal for a so-called "standard" to address U.S. electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions.

The Nuclear Gap In Obama's Clean Power Plan - Forbes:
If we want to arrest climate change, all we need are more renewables like wind and solar, right? Not exactly, according to a newly published Canadian report on lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”). In fact, the report, which is based on 246 studies covering various power generation scenarios and constraints, concluded that nuclear power beats wind and natural gas on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis for battling climate change.
The Forbes post, by Michael Krancer, won't surprise readers of my related writings:
commented on my "levelised cost" post on reddit - and that might explain how "apples-to-apples" comparison requires the systemic approach of looking at a wind + gas scenario. The emissions figures provided in the Hatch study didn't strike me as varying significantly from the emission ranges provided in the latest IPCC Working Group III documents, but on costing, and providing realistic supply mix scenarios, WG3's work is behind Hatch's.

The Forbes article concludes:

... It’s puzzling why the Clean Power Plan is drafted this way given the key role that experts say nuclear will need to play in getting us anywhere close to the goal set forth in the Plan itself. Even more puzzling is that another federal agency, the Energy Department, has scenarios that project the retirement rate of nuclear as high as 33%. Even the Clean Power Plan’s own 6% figure for retirement would increase atmospheric emissions from 200 million to 300 million tons in the next ten years.

Nuclear power is the work-horse of power supply and of zero-carbon generation. Nuclear plants operate around the clock in all weather, providing nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity supply and comprising about 63.3% of all clean (zero carbon emissions) energy, which is more than all other clean energy sources put together.
In formulating the final rule, the Environmental Protection Agency would do well to take a look at the Hatch report, seriously consider its findings, and put nuclear on par with other zero carbon generating sources.
The Obama administration would be wise to shelve the EPA's proposal - and they're likely to that by stringing out hearings and never getting around to implementation (the Keystone XL playbook).

Bloomberg also has an article today on the topic on nuclear's low emissions, politics and the EPA/NRDC proposed sorta standard - Nuclear Industry Touts Environment Benefits as it Seeks to Stem Reactor Retirements:
The nuclear industry's green-PR push comes as it says the EPA's treatment of nuclear energy in its clean power plant rule is “flawed,” and that credit given to existing facilities and nuclear plants under construction should be increased.
Under the proposal, nuclear generating capacity would be included in a state's overall emissions from power generation, and because nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, adding that capacity would reduce the total emissions rate and help a state meet its target.
EPA Wrong.
However, while new nuclear generation counts 100 percent toward meeting state goals, existing nuclear power is only given a 6 percent credit, meaning it would have a minimal impact on reducing the emissions rate.
“We think 6 percent is totally wrong,” Marvin S. Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute's president and chief executive officer told Bloomberg BNA. “What the number is, we are still not sure.”
My understanding is that this is not correct in that the new builds currently under way in Georgia and South Carolina don't get a 100% credit either.

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