Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) Executive Director Tim Judson moderated a discussion featuring Dr. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), and Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton University (a Beyond Nuclear Board of Advisors member), regarding the role of renewable sources of energy in light of the COP21 (21st Council of Parties) climate agreement emerging from Paris, France in December. In short, "wind, water, and sun" are dramatically outcompeting a significantly declining nuclear power industry as the low carbon solutions to the climate crisis. NIRS has made an audio recording of the discussion available.
The Renewable Energy Renaissance
The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.
Solar power is under attack in sun-soaked Nevada.
Judy Treichel, executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, has an op-ed featured in the appropriately named Las Vegas Sun, which begins:
During the 30 years I have fought efforts to bring the nation’s highly radioactive waste to Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, nuclear power supporters would ask, “So how do you think the lights will stay on without nuclear power?” My answer was, “In Nevada we have enough sunlight and solar power potential to keep our lights on and share some with you!”
So when the price of solar panels for residential installations dropped significantly, we tapped $8,500 from our retirement savings — after taking into account an NV Energy rebate and federal tax credit — and become a solar household. We were solar-powered all of last year, and our annual savings showed our system would pay for itself within 14 years. Moreover, it was right for the environment.
But with what’s happened in recent weeks, we feel financially ambushed. We’ve penciled out the recent increase for residential solar customers that NV Energy proposed and the Nevada Public Utility Commission approved and allowed to begin this month. Bottom line: Our system will never pay for itself. In fact, because rooftop solar is a different NV Energy rate class, an ordinary, modest-sized home in Southern Nevada will have larger power bills with rooftop solar than without, even though we will not tax the power grid and will generate renewable power for other NV Energy customers. This outrageous outcome overturns years of policy advances in Nevada to expand the use of renewable resources.
Judy, along with Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force's Steve Frishman, told their sad and shocking solar sabotage story on Harvey Wasserman's Solartopia radio show.
The October 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine with the cover photo of Earth and “Cool It” features an informative article by Robert Kunzig entitled “Germany Could be a Model on How We Get Energy in the Future.” Kunzig provides the straight story on the evolution of Germany’s pioneering path to “energiewende” which translates to an energy transition from centralized power from coal and nuclear to distributed energy with renewable solar and wind power.
The story is part of a National Geographic series on climate change and the latest installment under “Fix It.” In line with Beyond Nuclear’s agenda, the story marks to birthplace of the “energiewende” in Whyl, Germany and the coalition of southwestern German farmers and nearby Freiburg university students who by direct action occupied and halted the construction of the Whyl nuclear power plant. The coalition grew with antinuclear power movement merging with the citizens movement to oppose nuclear weapons in Germany and then even larger with the renewable energy movement. What has evolved is a German energy revolution from the growth of grass roots individual investments in wind and solar power to larger citizen associations and cooperatives that now combine to make up fully half of the current national investment in renewable energy. The struggle to democratize energy and ownership has arrived a country’s conventional centralized power utilities with coal and nuclear look to slow down the transition to renewables.
"France, one of the world’s leaders in nuclear energy production, plans to draw down nuclear’s share of electricity generation from 75 to 50 percent by 2025—giving itself a 10-year time frame equivalent to the complete shutdown now ongoing in Germany."
The article concludes:
“Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come,” said Jedliczka [of the environmental advocacy group Négawatt Society], quoting Victor Hugo. “In the medium to long term, I am very optimistic that PV—both small and large—and wind will develop on their own without public support,” he said.
“Even in France,” he added, “where the opposition has proven itself adept at inventing, testing and improving all kinds of pitfalls for postponing the development of renewables technologies.”
Jeff Siegel at Energy & Capital has admitted "I changed my mind," and that there is "No hope for nuclear." Siegel cites data from the 2015 World Nuclear Industry Status Report to reach his conclusion that the "renaissance" is in renewables, not nuclear.