From George Monbiot at The Guardian, an argument that nuclear power should be paired with renewables in the clean energy gameplan:
It’s true that my position has changed. As the likely effects of climate change have become clearer, nuclear power, by comparison, has come to seem less threatening.[…]
So why contemplate nuclear power at all? Why not, as Merrick suggests, decarbonise our economy solely through energy efficiency and renewable power?
In principle it could – just about – be done, as Mark Barrett at University College London and the authors of the ZeroCarbonBritain report suggest.
But as you load more renewable energy onto the grid, it becomes more expensive and harder to manage. As Mark Barrett, ZeroCarbonBritain and the German government have shown, you could have a balanced, reliable electricity supply consisting largely of renewables. But the balancing costs will rise a good deal as the penetration of renewables increases beyond, say, 60 or 70%. It is also worth noting that some of the more ambitious renewables proposals will take at least as long to implement as a new nuclear programme. We could decarbonise the electricity supply quicker and more cheaply if we complement renewables with other sources.
In the United States, nuclear energy provides about 70% of CO2-free power generation; most of the rest is from hydropower. These are important numbers to keep in mind as we consider how we will face these challenges.
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