|Triple Falls, Dupont State Forest, North Carolina|
From: Farmers, City Folk and Renewable Energy
at ANS Nuclear Cafe
I consider myself a pro-nuclear communicator, and I often blog about effective communication. However, communicating effectively means considering your audience. I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people who are opposed to nuclear energy:
- Environmentalists who have lumped nuclear with "other bad stuff," but may not have given the matter much thought. They often come to realize the role of nuclear energy in providing very low carbon electricity.
- People who are just plain against nuclear energy. Period. End of story.
Many environmentalists (people interested in a healthy environment) are beginning to embrace nuclear power. The movie Pandora's Promise is about one such set of environmentalists. Similarly, Armond Cohen, a leading environmentalist in California, noted that greenhouse gas emissions in California rose substantially when San Onofre went off-line. Cohen also realized that renewable sources, such as wind turbines, require huge amounts of land to make the same amount of power as a relatively small nuclear plant.
As described in this VPR interview, Cohen explains why he has reluctantly shifted from being an anti-nuclear activist to someone who now argues that we can't afford to dismiss nuclear power.
At the Washington Post last month, Stephen Stromberg wrote Why Environmentalists Should Hope Nuclear Power Sticks Around. He illustrated his article with a chart showing the two low-carbon power sources in the United States: renewables and nuclear. By 2040, U.S. renewables are expected go from producing 12% of our electricity (today) to 16% in 2040. Nuclear energy's contributes 19% today and 16% in 2040. It is an important part of our low-carbon future.
Meanwhile, in Europe, greenhouse gas targets remain in place, but renewable targets are being scrapped. Gail Marcus of Nuke Power Talk gives an excellent overview in her latest blog post: Good News From Europe: Reasoned Approaches to Energy Policy.
Opponents of Nuclear Energy
At Canadian Energy Issues, Steve Aplin has several posts that show that Germany's greenhouse gas emissions have risen, despite their investment in renewables. This is because the Germans are phasing out their nuclear plants. Two excellent posts are:
- Money for Nothing: German wind turbines and solar panels useless during coldest, darkest part of the year.
- Reducing carbon pollution from electric power generation: what works?
The German Experience as an Opponent Experience
Which brings us to a question: what is the purpose of the German energy transition? If it is about greenhouse gases, it frankly isn't working, as Steve Aplin (and others) point out.
But maybe it isn't about environmentalism, lowering the carbon footprint, or anything like that. Maybe it is mostly about being opponents of nuclear energy. Rod Adams posted about fossil fuels versus nuclear energy: Smoking gun research continuing in earnest. This post was published in early December 2013, and now has 145 comments.
|At the base of a turbine|
Lempster wind farm
"Does the current German electricity market situation really make sense to you?"
Bas Gresnigt answered it as below (here's the link, so you don't have to read 145 comments.)
Here's his answer:
Very sensible market design.
You will agree if you measure that market with the German targets in mind (in order of importance):
1. Nuclear out
2. Democratize energy
3. 100% renewable
4. Less CO2
5. Affordable costs
I contacted Gresnigt and asked him if I could use this quote. He was kind enough to give permission, though he felt the brief statement of this quote was somewhat unfair to his arguments. I hope he will comment on this blog post.
Back to Communication
People looking at the German experience can look at it as a colossal failure (higher carbon dioxide, higher prices) or a great success (phasing out nuclear plants). For a group for whom "anything is better than nuclear energy," no amount of communication is likely to make a difference.
For environmentalists concerned with land use and with greenhouse gases, nuclear communicators can use the German experience as an example of a situation in which, as they say: mistakes were made.