Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Requires A New Nuclear Power Plant Every Day

Roger Pielke

From Forbes

Roger Pielke Contributor

Energy

I research and write about science, policy and politics.

More than a decade ago, Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner characterized climate policy as an “auction of promises” in which politicians “vied to outbid each other with proposed emissions targets that were simply not achievable.” For instance, among Democrats competing for the presidency in 2020, several, including Joe Biden, have committed to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Candidate Andrew Yang bid 2049, and Cory Booker topped that by offering 2045. Bernie Sanders has offered a 71% reduction by 2030.

One reason that we see this “auction of promises” is that the targets and timetables for emissions reductions are easy to state but difficult to comprehend. Here I’ll present what net-zero carbon dioxide emissions for 2050 actually means in terms of the rate of deployment of carbon-free energy and the coincident decommissioning of fossil fuel infrastructure.

To conduct this analysis I use the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, which presents data on global and national fossil fuel consumption in units called “million tons of oil equivalent” or mtoe. In 2018 the world consumed 11,743 mtoe in the form of coal, natural gas and petroleum. The combustion of these fossil fuels resulted in 33.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. In order for those emissions to reach net-zero, we will have to replace about 12,000 mtoe of energy consumption expected for 2019. (I ignore so-called negative emissions technologies, which do not presently exist at scale.)

Another useful number to know is that there are 11,051 days left until January 1, 2050. To achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions globally by 2050 thus requires the deployment of >1 mtoe of carbon-free energy consumption (~12,000 mtoe/11,051 days) every day, starting tomorrow and continuing for the next 30+ years. Achieving net-zero also requires the corresponding equivalent decommissioning of more than 1 mtoe of energy consumption from fossil fuels every single day.

Another important number to consider is the expected increase in energy consumption in coming decades. The International Energy Agency currently projects that global energy consumption will increase by about 1.25% per year to 2040. That rate of increase in energy consumption would mean that the world will require another ~5,800 mtoe of energy consumption by 2050, or about another 0.5 of an mtoe per day to 2050. That brings the total needed deployment level to achieve net-zero emissions to about 1.6 mtoe per day to 2050.

The concept of an mtoe is pretty hard for anyone to get their head around. So let’s put the mtoe into a more comprehensible unit, a nuclear power plant and specifically the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Florida. The amount of energy reflected in 1 mtoe is approximated by that produced by the Turkey Point nuclear plant over a year.

So the math here is simple: to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the world would need to deploy 3 Turkey Point nuclear plants worth of carbon-free energy every two days, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050. At the same time, a Turkey Point nuclear plant worth of fossil fuels would need to be decommissioned every day, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050.

I’ve found that some people don’t like the use of a nuclear power plant as a measuring stick. So we can substitute wind energy as a measuring stick. Net-zero carbon dioxide by 2050 would require the deployment of ~1500 wind turbines (2.5 MW) over ~300 square miles, every day starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050. The figure below illustrates the challenge.

The scale of the challenge to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions in 2050.

The scale of the challenge to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions in 2050. Roger Pielke Jr., BP 2018

Full article here.

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154 thoughts on “Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Requires A New Nuclear Power Plant Every Day

  1. “A Guardian calculation found the average heating across that 150-year period was equivalent to about 1.5 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs per second.”

    Apologies, it’s 1.5 Hiroshima’s.

    It’s a Guardian calculation.

    • The other night I was watching a comedy skit, “Alas Smith and Jones”, from the 1980’s and one comment, I didn’t quite catch it all, was about spelling at The Guardian as being “genuine”…

      Funny! Look it up.

      • The Grauniad never lived down their reputation for poor spelling, even after the advent of word processors.

        I recall that in years gone by, many of the spelling mistakes seemed so bad/laughable that it seemed likely that many of them were actually deliberate. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that they are still probably capable of deliberate mathematical falsehoods, especially when it comes to global warming evangelism.

  2. Someone commented in another post an interesting realization, that a windmill can’t make another windmill. That is to say that the total amount of energy needed to create a windmill is more than the windmill will ever generate, so it’s a net loss in energy, a futile task. So if we concentrated or ‘energy’ on making windmills and then decommissioned those energy sources, once on 100% windmill power, we would gradually be weaned off of electricity since they would slowly die off as they age, not to be replaced.

    As the windmills die off, so will the population. Some in this world think that is OK and would have no problem with that.

      • f.c., the numbers you cited for EROI (or EROEI) are from Zimmerman (2013), and even Wikipedia notes that a “better reference needed”. The EROI I am familiar with, Estimated Return On Investment, suggests that the cited numbers are bogus to the extreme, due to numerous reports of wind turbines failing to achieve payback without subsidies. On the other hand, oil sands are producing black gold at a good profit.

      • My house is heated by natural gas. It’s always there when I need it.

        Last winter during -20 to -35 C cold spells natural gas was available. Wind – most day only 4 to 10% of capacity. Solar? It was at zero.

        • This kind of comment (the original by MikeH) with respect should not be made on a site like this. The original statement came from a book written by Thomas Homer-Dixon, pulled out of context from a chapter written by David Hughes. This is the explanation by Homer-Dixon on his site about the subsequent poster that someone produced quoting him:

          “A poster widely circulated on the Web highlights text that was purportedly written by me saying that wind power inevitably suffers an energetic deficit. The poster is fraudulent. I didn’t write the text, the text itself is selectively quoted, and the argument it makes, taken in isolation, is meaningless.

          The poster includes the following text over my name:

          “A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons” “a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it”

          This text is selectively excerpted from a chapter written by David Hughes in Carbon Shift (2009), a book I co-edited. Here’s the full text (the words omitted on the circulated poster are enclosed in square brackets):

          “A poster widely circulated on the Web highlights text that was purportedly written by me saying that wind power inevitably suffers an energetic deficit. The poster is fraudulent. I didn’t write the text, the text itself is selectively quoted, and the argument it makes, taken in isolation, is meaningless.

          The poster includes the following text over my name:

          “A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons” “a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it”

          This text is selectively excerpted from a chapter written by David Hughes in Carbon Shift (2009), a book I co-edited. Here’s the full text (the words omitted on the circulated poster are enclosed in square brackets):

          “[The concept of net energy must also be applied to renewable sources of energy, such as windmills and photovoltaics.] A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. [The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is,] a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”

          It’s worth noting that it would be pointless to put wind turbines in poor locations, and it’s trivial, or meaningless, to say that a turbine would never pay back its embedded energy in a poor location.

          So, 1) I didn’t write the text, 2) the text itself is selectively quoted, and 3) the argument it makes, taken in isolation, is meaningless. Three strikes.”

          Yes, somebody could spend a million building a windmill, then stick it in a wind-locality analogous to where the sun don’t shine, and claim it never paid back; so what? It would be prudent, especially on a scientific site, to check such things before posting.

          • And a good location is where the wind blows what percentage of the time? 100% 66% 33% And at what velocity?

            This is not stated so the text is still meaningless.

          • Sir,

            Judging from the number of wind turbines that would have to be commissioned, per day, to go net-CO2-zero by 2050, I suspect that a large number of them would be placed in locations that are not particularly good for wind-energy generation. So, the statement that wind turbines won’t produce enough energy to reproduce themselves, may well be correct.

            I have driven past the wind farms outside Palm Springs and outside Mojave and, except for the most recent trip, noticed that most of the turbines were not turning. And this in ares most favorable for wind farms. Again, the statement that wind turbines won’t produce enough energy to reproduce themselves, may well be correct.

          • Sorry I screwed that up with cut-and-paste repetition, but the message is still clear; the David Hughes quote about windmills not recovering their costs was taken out of context and therefore ought not to be used.

            My personal observation is that windmills seem to run on taxpayer subsidies, not wind. I too when on holidays escaping Canadian winter have seen the windmills near Palm Springs turning or not turning in direct correlation with the flow of taxpayer money, not necessarily with the flow of air. When subsidies/tax credits were removed, windmills were not repaired as they broke down and stood still in steadily increasing numbers. A logical conclusion is that it did not pay to repair them; they apparently could not without subsidy generate electricity of sufficient value to pay for the maintenance–and Banning is indeed one of the good areas. When everything is windmills and there’s no longer a source of subsidy–‘then whut?’

          • Wait a minute, Hughes is only talking about energy of refining raw material payback, he is not talking about permitting, installation, maintainance, insurance, etc. I stand by my statement that Estimated Rate Of Return is almost certainly zero or less, for windmills, and therein is the reality: taxpayer subsidy scam.

          • A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore

            A two-megawatt windmill may well produce more ENERGY than is used to build it but it will not produce the RESOURCES required for the build.

            Coking coal and iron ore are not outputs of energy, wind generated or otherwise.

          • So, are you saying wind is a viable replacement for real electricity production from gas, coal, hydro and nuclear? Just to get it all clear.

        • My house much the same, only with heating oil rather than natural gas. I live on the very boundary of the largest wind farm in Idaho. I believe your estimates for midwinter energy production by wind to be a tad on the optimistic side.

      • f.c.,
        That wiki article is seriously flawed since it doesn’t take into account maintenance, real world lifespan data, or costs related to providing backup when the wind doesn’t blow. This study is much better: https://collapseofindustrialcivilization.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/ferroni-y-hopkirk-2016-energy-return-on-energy-invested-eroei-for-photo.pdf

        It does show that windmills may have a positive EROEI, but not enough to create a sustainable system because you need a lot of excess capacity to charge storage systems, and replace units lost to natural disasters like hurricanes.

        • “This study is much better:…”

          The study you reference is about photovoltaics, not wind. Further, the study has been demonstrated to be deeply flawed:

          Ferroni and Hopkirk not scientifically valid

          A recent paper by Ferroni and Hopkirk (2016) asserts that the ERoEI (also referred to as EROI) of photovoltaic (PV) systems is so low that they actually act as net energy sinks, rather than delivering energy to society. Such claim, if accurate, would call into question many energy investment decisions. In the same paper, a comparison is also drawn between PV and nuclear electricity. We have carefully analysed this paper, and found methodological inconsistencies and calculation errors that, in combination, render its conclusions not scientifically sound.

        • Any ERoEI and CO2/MWh of wind turbine systems, solar systems, etc., nuclear plants have to be an a cradle to grave basis.
          All else is BS

          A 1000 MW nuclear plant would produce 1000 MW x 8766 hr/y x 0.90 CF x 80 y = 631,152,000 MWh at a RUSSIAN/CHINESE/KOREAN cost of $4 billion. A to Z CO2 about 50 to 60 g/kWh

          2200 MW of wind turbines, costing at least $5 billion, would produce 2200 x 8766 x 0.33 x 25 = 159,102,900 MWh, about 4 times less MWh.A to Z CO2 about 40 to 50 g/kWh

          There is no solution without drastic population deduction.
          Population growth rate has minus 0.5%/y in the very near future
          Right now it is plus 1.01%/y

          The world population growth rate was 2.08% in 1968, 1.14% in 2016, 1.10% in 2018, and could be 1.08% during 2019 – 2020.
          At end 2019, there will be about 7.8 billion people.
          At about 1% growth, about 78 million people will be added, about 39 million males and 39 million females.
          There likely are about 40 million/y x 25 years = 1.0 billion females between the ages of 15 and 40 in the world population

          Current annual addition rates are:

          Births about 131 million
          Deaths about 55 million
          Growth 76 million
          https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

          All those people will need more energy, emit more CO2, need more space and goods and services, and would do more damage to the environment and flora and fauna; a highly unsustainable situation.
          It should be clear population growth rates must be greatly reduced.

          • willem post
            “It should be clear population growth rates must be greatly reduced.”

            No, its not clear.
            CO2 is not an issue.
            Energy is not an issue unless we make it one.
            Your own figures show that the growth rate is already decreasing.
            Population statistics show that as a population gets richer it slows its growth rate.
            The world population is getting richer, so it will slow its growth rate naturally.
            However, if you are in a hurry you are welcome to get us started by leaving now.
            I intend to hang around and watch the show as long as I can.

    • I’m sorry, but isn’t that matter easily fixable by using different materials to construct the windmills and sourcing it locally. Put them on top of trees or something or build smaller ones, no need to be greedy.

      As for the notion of needing backup gas generators, that is ludicrous. How often will they be needed? That can be solved at the household level with generators, not hundreds of coal factories operating 24/7 for backup.

      Really?? Someone fill me in on what I’m missing here?

      [???? .mod]

        • Not to mention, downsizing the Wind Turbine by half output 2.5MW to 1.25 MW would increase the quantity needed by double 1500 daily would become 3000 daily and 300sq mi would become 600sq mi and not appreciably reduce the size of the pylon, depth of concrete foundation or length of the blades. It also wouldn’t reduce the amount of materials required to produce the required 1 mtoe energy.

          Curious, do the mtoe figures for reduction of Fossil CO2 include the electrification of transportation?

          • Actually, I was thinking the the capcity factor should be taken into account which means the with a capacity factor of 35% (probably high) the number of windmills would be 4286 and the acreage would be 857.

            Yeah, not going to happen.

          • @Don Bennet;

            Regarding capacity factor, Roger is being a little generous with the capacity factor for the equivalent wind turbines. Based on the 1,600 MW output for nuclear at Turkey Point (there’s also a combined cycle NG plant there), he’s assuming that wind produces power 50% of the time, everywhere it’s installed.

          • When I read his suggestion of putting turbines on the tops of trees, I realized that Tim is not one of this world’s deep thinkers.

      • What’s missing? Consider a residential block of 500 apartments, each with a generator. Those with balconies could install their gas/diesel generators outside whereas those without balconies would have to put their generators either on the roof or in the street along with a lot of electric chords. Consider the amount of fuel lying around, the likelihood of fuel leakages and the chance of sparks from all the trailing power chords. A recipe for disaster, no?

      • This is a great example of the old adage – that all Green technology is an unworkable fantasy – based upon zero knowledge, foolish ideas, and fantasy economics. Never seen any Green idea that had any remote chance of succeeding in the real world.

        Ralph

      • Tim,
        You knowledge on the subjects being discussed is so lacking that there isn’t even time to list all the things you need to study. Just start with basic physics, electromagnetisim, A/C induction, basic power generation and distribution, basic structural engineering. After you are done with that, then feel free to stop by and ask some questions.

      • What is there about economy of scale that you fail to understand? And doesn’t equipping each household with a (gasoline powered, I would assume) backup generator kind of defeat the purpose of wind turbines?

      • Can you imagine how much pollution 200 million portable generators with minimal to no pollution control equipment will be putting out?

      • Yeah. Now you’re talking. Kids could wear them in their hats as they run and play outside, like they used to.

        Because it’s compulsory (SARC.)
        Eamon.

      • Reading what you posted makes it clear you have no idea what is required to maintain an electric grid that supplies an entire nation. Fail.

    • It is not possible to get to zero CO2 emissions with sun and wind gathering. Germany has proven that.

      Wind gathering and sun gathering fails when energy storage is required.At that point installing more sun and wind gathering does not result in a reduction in total CO2 emitted.

      Wind gathering makes more energy than is required to construct the wind turbine, the problem is the additional energy for stuff like power lines, switching equipment, power line right away (got to cut the trees down) and so on is not included and the loss of grid efficiency due to more starts and stops is not included.

      P.S. It is possible to install a pile of new mass produceable fission reactors.

      There is no water, no fuel rod, fission reactor design that is six times more fuel efficient than a fuel rod, water reactor, that does not have any catastrophic failure modes, that is as cheap as coal to build and operate, that operates at atmospheric pressure and that can be mass produced.

      The reactor design in question can be trucked to site and has an operating life of seven years at which time it is drained and replaced with a brand new reactor so there is no future reactor dismantling charges.

      This advance reactor design has built and tested 50 years ago.

  3. This seems to be 11050 days x 300 sq miles (assuming the post was written yesterday) which is 3 315 000 sq miles.

    The area of the continental United States of America is 3,119,884.69 square miles.

    This means that the coastal shelf will have to be taken up by wind turbines to the amount of 195 115.31 sq miles.

    NOAA says the length of the coastline is 95,471 miles. This means that the coastline will have to be ringed by a forest of turbines a bit more than 2 miles deep.

    Half your luck in getting this done! OK for Florida, which sticks out into the ocean, but there are places like Delaware Bay and Long Island Sound where it is going to be a bit difficult to get a 2 mile wide space, and don’t mention the shipping channels!

    • That NOAA 95+ thousand mile coastline is from ~100 meter resolution…nearly fractal irregularity. At ~ 2 mile “roughness” compatible with Wind Farm Regions, the coastline is less than 10,000 miles long.

      Put the Wind turbines “over the horizon” so nobody has to be assaulted by the noise, ugliness, and dead bird smells. and the depth goes to 100 miles and length decreases to under 10,000 miles.

      We could “fit” wind into the available space….but the cost and environmental consequences are orders of magnitude (in both cost and the environment) than Nuclear Energy. Look at the damned Germany Wind data. Getting ALL Germany’s energy from renewables would cost every household an EXTRA (not total) ~$300 USD Monthly FOREVER. That will never happen in Germany where 90% are extreme environmentalists. Never Ever happen in the US if the population has anything to say about it.

      • You’ve cracked it, all the wind turbines could be fit along the coastline, all you need to do is use a small enough ruler.

    • Since the US uses only about a quarter of the world’s electrical power, and our demand isn’t growing at the world rate, we might need about “only” one new nuke plant per week until 2050 to get rid of fossil fuel generation.

    • This is something like Monckton’s paper on Hansen’s feedback analysis. He accepts, for sake of argument, that feedback analysis is appropriate and then shows that Hansen did it wrong.

      Let’s accept, for sake of argument, that it’s really about the climate. Recent estimates of the cost of nuclear power plants is around nine billion bucks. link That’s about three trillion bucks per year. We have to pound the Democrats with, “How much will this cost?”

    • I have never been able to reconcile:
      • Roger’s Publications that reveal that Climate-related Extreme Weather Events have not gotten worse…
      • With Roger’s support for spending $100’s of Trillions…to prevent having to suffer the costs of the things that are not happening.

      I suspect his irrational support for irrational spending on problems that aren’t happening…is for the purpose of getting anything he writes reviewed and published.

  4. Thanks for the metrics. The calculus missed is that the climate activists plan for most of us to starve to death.

    I didn’t know the Dutch were engaged in such stupid blame gaming. This is what’s coming. Government not only dictating what and how much we have their permission to eat but also micromanaging the production.

    One can only wonder when they will begin culling the 8.5 billion herd of two-legged omnivores.

    Farmers — tired of being blamed for climate change — drive tractor convoy to The Hague, causing record-breaking rush hour in the Netherlands
    A plow on the front of one tractor was spray-painted with the words, ‘How dairy you’

    Read in TheBlaze: https://apple.news/AciGcxxO4TQabFIp2WggxUg

    • Rationing of commodities is the end goal. Total government control to manage the coming overpopulated world is their dream. Once you are in government, or are part of government, or employed by government, or depend on government handouts, you come to believe that more government control is the solution. It is the disease of the left leaning central planning types. If they attain power by popular ballot, they spend so much money that their opposition has almost no hope of weaning the economy off government spending during the next election cycle.

  5. How many mtoes per day would be needed to build the windmills needed, as it will take an awful lot of concrete, steel and plastic composites?

  6. Another point of carbon budget error that Roger doesn’t include.. he treats these additional nuclear power plants as if they spring from the ground like trees. No massive input of fossil fuels, and mineral extractions to produce even just one plant. Not to mention refueling every 12-18 months. Or 1,500×2.5MW turbines sprout out the ground like self replicating grass and never have to be replaced every 20 years or so.

    The problem of course is Dems are horrible at math and basic engineering. It’s all pixie dust and unicorns for them. Sort of like when AOC is asked where the money comes from for the GND, she simply says, “You just pay for it” and waves her hand. Magic money.

    And then to top it off, they call Trump a liar… funny.

    • Nuclear has a wonderful EROI around 60 or 70. link That means each nuclear plant provides enough power to build many more nuclear plants and still provide useful power to the grid. In other words, it raises Pielke’s calculation by less than two percent.

  7. The problem is no climate aware politician is calling out the crazies and putting forward the facts. Roger can provide the ammunition but who will fire it?

  8. More windmills? There go the birds and bats that eat the disease-carrying bugs that plague all civilizations.

    Just so you all know, Eastern Equine Encephalitis is carried by mosquitoes. It is fatal to horses and to humans. It isn’t spreading rapidly yet, but kill off the birds and bats that eat those mosquitoes, and watch it spread. But those things don’t count in the wacko world of the Greenbeaners and Warmunistas. If they really want zero carbon emissions, they should get their mouths sewn shut first and foremost.

    (Can anyone tell that they annoy me a lot? Rant over.)

    • Agreed
      Anyone who feels CO2 is the great boogyman of Climate (and with 97% concensus and a vast majority of true believers, or so they say) should immediately stop using Gas, Oil, and ALL fossil fuel related resources and derived substances. If there are TRUELY that many who think it is a problem, their refusal to make use of fossil derived energy and resources should create a negative CO2 balance within the environment and lower the CO2 concentration. (unless of course there really aren’t that many true believers)

    • Excellent point! I’ve been pondering this myself. What if the mosquito population spirals out of control? And your forgiven for your rant.

  9. This one has been around for years, it is very easy to estimate global average *metered* energy consumption as around 10,000 GW, most of which comes from the consumption of the dreaded fossil fuels. Sorry solar zealots, most solar energy is not metered, the figure quoted is after solar power has done whatever its thing is.

    By chance, 10,000 is also around the number of days till 2050, so to get rid of the current means of energy generation you need a new 1GW generator EVERY DAY till 2050. So, who is producing one today?

  10. RP,

    Thank you for being one who knows about scale.
    My geoscience background made me aware decades ago.
    People simply do not seem to know what some of these anti-FF plans entail.
    Same with carbon dioxide capture and storage. Incredibly large tonnes involved each day.
    Geoff S

  11. If the goal is to remove co2 from atmosphere in cheapest way then build nuclear reactors to pump cold nutrient rich water from lower depths of ocean to surface to feed algae that will absorb the co2 and sink back to ocean depths.

    This is similar method but instead uses waves.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3308337/James-Lovelocks-plan-to-pump-ocean-water-to-stop-climate-change.html

    I don’t agree that co2 is a big problem but there are effective ways to remove it.

    • Like all geoengineering schemes, it is expensive, and completely unnecessary, with who-knows-what unintended consequences. Best left to science fiction.

        • As far above 180ppm as possible. In Greenhouses 1000 to 2000 ppm are routinely used. We couldn’t get to that point world-wide if we burned everything we can get our hands on.

          C3 plants don’t actually die until somewhere between 50 and 170 ppm, but they slow way down and need large amounts of water to stay productive below 250.

    • <em<pump cold nutrient rich water from lower depths of ocean to surface

      Specify size and number of pumps and where they will be placed.
      How much cold water?
      What happens at depth as that water is removed?
      Inquiring minds want to know.

      algae that will absorb the co2 and sink back to ocean depths
      How do you know that?
      Algae blooms on beaches seem to appear in the news frequently.

  12. Our friends on the left have no sense of numbers, science and reality. That’s why they think the world’s economy can be powered by wind mills, solar panels, and squirrel cages.

  13. The numbers the post presents are for the world not the US. They maybe applicable but the candidates he quotes can only speak for the US. He should only do the US.

  14. Nope…it will require more than 2 Nuclear Plants per day.

    The US EIA Projections for 2050 Global Total Anual Energy Consumption is 900 Quads. That’s a mere 270,000,000 GWh…but that’s everything…Electricity, Transportation, Aviation, Industrial, Agricultural, Heating…etc.

    Renewables might be able to take on 150 Quads if enough Hydro is allowed to be built. Nuclear produces about 27 Quads now. Be optimistic and give Renewables 173 Quads so we can work with round numbers conservatively.

    The remaining 700 Quads are all fossil fuels that New Nuclear Plants will have to take over to get to ZERO CARBON by 2050.

    A 1 GWe Nuclear plant produces around 8,700 GWhe Annually at best.

    700 Quads times 300,000 GWh/Quad = 210,000,000 GWh total World Energy consumption in 2050.

    210,000,000 GWh divided by 8700 GWh/Nuc = Over 24,000 MORE Nuclear Plants needed by 2050.

    30 years of 365.25 days is ~ 11,000 days.

    So, we need TO COMISSION MORE THAN 2 NUCLEAR PLANTS every day from now until 2050.

    There is NOBODY talking about this level of mobilization of global resources. They talk about solar panels (entire state of Texas of those things needed @ 3.3 Acres per GWh/year and doubled to capture the energy for battery backup).

    Maybe they are not really concerned about actually fixing the Climate non-Crisis…and more concerned about abolishing free exchange and free trade (i.e. Capitalism).

  15. Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050.

    “the world would need to deploy 3 Turkey Point nuclear plants worth of carbon-free energy every two days, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050”

    That’s over 16,000 nuclear plants by 2050. There are, currently, only 450 nuclear plants in the world. Or even worse 16.5 million wind turbines.

    Bad News: Shysters continue to compete in this “auction of promises”.

    Good News: It’s totally impossible so it will die in a ditch.

  16. Wind turbines at 300 square miles per day for 11,051 days amounts to 3.32 million square miles, which is 87% of the land area of the United States. That gives us the capacity to replace fossil fuels if they ran all the time, which they don’t. A 2.5 MW wind turbine requires about 1,000 tons of natural resources (roughly the same proportion as a nuclear power plant). But a 1000 MW nuclear power plant requires about 4,000 tons of natural resources, so the wind turbines would require 375 times as much.

    Permitting this much land for siting wind turbines, and mining the natural resources needed to build them, could not be done by 2050. Nukes required far less land and resources, but they could not be permitted in the United States in that length of time purely because of “activist” opposition.

    So I guess we’re screwed.

    • The amount of energy a turbine is capable of producing depends quite heavily on where it is located.
      The numbers being used are for current turbines which are going into some of the best places. After those are filled up, turbines will have to be placed in proceedingly less optimal locations, so the amount of energy to be expected per turbine will go down as more turbines are installed.

      Beyond that, turbines interfere with each other. The more turbines, the greater the interference. Yet another reason why the expected amount of energy per turbine will go down as the count goes up.

  17. I see a flaw here. Roger Pielke compares fossil fuels with the output of nuclear power plants.
    Turning fossil fuels into usefull energy is not terribly efficient, while electricity is very efficient. So in my opinion his estimate is a factor 2 or 3 too high.

  18. Is the 1 mtoe 1500 2.5 MW turbines calculated at 100% operational efficiency 24/7 or is it factored realistically?

    BTW, it’s not a good thing that I know a guy working for our utility that thinks it a good thing that we go 100% wind and consequently do without electricity. He thinks of it as natural rationing.

    • A worrying portion of society think like that. The whole climate change debacle is a lottery win for those people.
      Many seem to be the ‘controlling’ types and often find their way into government too.

  19. Wind turbines can’t be counted at full capacity, unliek a nuclear power plant, 5 to 10 percent is way more realistic. So the figure would be more something like 15000 to 30.000 new windmills per day

  20. Regarding the calculations for wind turbines, the estimate given seems to assume that once built, each one will last forever.
    But they seem to last only about 12-15 years, according to several analysts who have written about it.
    And the numbers do not take into account the huge increase in the amount of energy/fuel needed to mine the materials and transport and manufacture everything involved in all of the construction, whatever form the CO2 free energy sources would be.
    IOW…trying to go fossil fuel free would require burning more of them than ever, and increasing mining on an unprecedented scale.
    And who is gonna build all of them?
    Millennials with degrees in woman studies?

  21. If those 1500 wind turbine units per day are name plate that needs to be multiplied by a factor of 5.

  22. NOBODY would in their right mind build conventional nuclear reactors after molten salt reactors become available, which will happen in the current deacde. Small modiuler molten salt reactors such as Moltex Energy is devlopeing, are simple power plants which use parts (such as fuel rods) that have been used successfully for decades, so approving these designs is a simple matter. These plants will be built in factories, around the world, and 3 or 4 Moltex Energy SMR plants can produce the power of a Turkey Point conventional plant (1386MW) and occupy less space, with NO need for any nearby lakes of cooling watwr – the plants are air cooled. Nor is there any need for the massive site preparations which are requiired by a convenional power plant. Nor is there any need for much peak power generators,since the molten salt reactors have load following capability. These plants can burn either nuclear wastes (reducing the time required for background radiation levels to be acheived from 300,000 years to 300 years for the components which are not completely burned)
    and can burn tegular low grade uranium or Thorium, whcih can supply energy for thousands of years. Meltdowns or explsoive ejection of radiactive material is physically impossible. And, best of all, these power plants can be built at less than half that of conventional plants of equal capacity.
    They require very little land and are so sae can be located anywhere. Estinmated cost of power is 4 cents per kWh, levelized, cheaper than fossil fuel. Russia, China, India and the Westa re developing molten salt reactors and there will be enough build/install capacity to replace all existing fossil fuel capacity fairly quickly. The U.S. would require less than a trillion dollars to build enough molten salt reactors to replace all fossil fuel and renewable capacity, leaving current nuclear and hydro capacity (30%) intact. There would be enough power to also satisfy an all electric automotive fleet. Making arguments using characteristics of current comvemtional nuclear power displays excessive ignorance – once molten salt begins deployment, no fool would even consider building a conventional light water reactor powerplant. The future of nuclear (and of all power) is molten salt – nothing else makes any logical or exconomic sense.

  23. “Another point of carbon budget error that Roger doesn’t include.. he treats these additional nuclear power plants as if they spring from the ground like trees. No massive input of fossil fuels, and mineral extractions to produce even just one plant. ” ???
    Mull on this
    “AWEA’s manager of industry data analysis, John Hensley, did the following math: 4.082 billion megawatt-hours (the average annual US electricity consumption) divided by 7,008 megawatt-hours of annual wind energy production per wind turbine equals approximately 583,000 onshore turbines. ”
    How much fossil fuel, manufacturing, concrete for the foundation, transportation for every aspect involved from mining to building to providing security and maintenance be generated? And that number of wind turbines is only the amount needed for electricity. You need to multiply by three or four to eliminate all uses of co2 producing activities in manufacturing, transportation, mining, farming, etc.
    Do the math, Use your brain.
    As an engineer, involved with the construction of Nuclear power plants. when I read Rogers article I immediately conclude it is humanly impossible to achieve ZERO CO2 by RE, And ONLY NE makes it even theoretically possible. Worse, the numbers used are Annual total. That means that the power available is ONLY about 1/2 to 1/3 of the da to meet daily peaks, and 4 times that number for annual peaks.
    Nuclear Power plants do not need “Backup Storage” systems RE will require, at minimum an equivalent amount of storage as generation just to provide 1 hour of storge, assuming all storage is available on the grid at all times. One hour of storage only allows you to do an orderly shutdown of manufacturing and does not eliminate the need for emergency generators in essently every facility that uses electricity.

  24. I am even skeptical that replacing gas/coal with nuclear automatically means less GH gases. For example, here in Koeberg, all the fish in the ocean near to the plant died due to the fact that the water became considerably warmer. It seems to me nuclear uses a lot more cooling water than a gas powered plant. The cooling part of nuclear seems quite critical as all plants are built near rivers, seas or oceans. That being the case, my plausible (?) thinking is that the resulting warmer water also means a higher evaporation rate during the [sunshine] daytime. That means more water vapor in the air…. which warms the earth ….[if you believe that GH gasses warm the earth….]

    • Thorium LFTR’s do not require copious cooling. People utilize the Uranium/Plutonium reference to nuclear power, there are others available, but the US Dept. of Energy isn’t interested in a second fuel cycle.

      https://youtu.be/K7AfnQ8BN6E Comment starts at 3:20 mark…

      I recommend building a LFTR next to the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility and do a head to head comparison of results…

      • “Thorium LFTR’s do not require copious cooling.”

        How come? Do they operate with different laws of thermodynamics 🙂 or just start the heat engine at molten salt temperatures?

        • As far as I remember from ten years ago I last looked at it, LFTR operate at around 800 Celsius. Due to this high naturally stable temperature, you can use a closed turbine to heat exchanger cycle with helium. If the core temperature exceeds 800 C the process will slow down.
          So, no magic here – no water cooling needed, although I suppose some air-cooling of the helium might be needed or you can use wet cooling. But importantly, the cooling is not safety critical and significant less cooling is needed for LFTR, compared to the more classic types.
          There is a twelve page document, that may give you some insight:
          https://aris.iaea.org/PDF/LFTR.pdf

          • Thanks, I’ve gotten a bit out-of-touch with LFTRs, nice to see a current concept.

            However, it looks to me as though the power side will be working with gas temperatures close to existing power plants because the document states “The supercritical carbon dioxide gas turbine employing the recompression cycle is proposed and can generate electricity at high efficiencies (approximately 45%).”

            So, half the thermal output is waste heat, and will require typical heat engine cooling.

      • While the reactor may not need as much cooling, the water loop, where the generator is located will still be needing the same amount of cooling.

    • Problem has been solved for years. US does not allow any new power plant or manufacture us a river for a heatsink.

    • You keep repeating this claim. It’s almost as if you actually believe it.
      The amount of cooling needed is based on the amount of power being generated. It has absolutely nothing to do with which technology is being used to boil the water in the first place.

  25. They believe it’s a marsh mellow world. Fragile, easy to catch fire and on a hockey stick.

    As Biden said truth over facts. And as Hitler said, to paraphrase, tell a lie often enough it will be the truth.

    The incredibly unthinking will believe they will be saved by these say anything without knowledge politicians. Their truth over facts is deception.

  26. Remember folks, it’s only the fossil fuel people who stand to gain. Nobody will make ANY money building 2 nuclear plants a day.

    • Well, the thousands of people working at construction site will make money. Once built, there will be hundreds of great jobs at each plant. And each plant will have a jobs multiplier effect, as dozens of outside contractors and salespeople call on the plants.

  27. The Fed Govt should launch the building of a 1 GW nuke plant every month. Build them as military installations to keep the ecoterrorists away during construction. That will greatly reduce the time and expense to build the plants. (Nuke plants are 90% concrete and steel and represent thousands of shovel ready jobs).
    They should then sell the plants to the Social Security Admin for Treasury Notes the SSA possesses. The Fed Govt should be required to burn the notes.
    Keep breaking ground on a new plant month after month until we have doubled our fleet. Then keep going, replacing retiring dinosaurs with new generation plants.
    Fairly quickly, the SSA will have traded a mountain of IOU’s for a fleet of highly valuable, highly productive nuke plants. And the country will have added hundreds of billions of dollars of value to its GDP. The SSA can then sell plants as needed to meet monthly retiree payouts or license them to contractors to run to make long-term income as a landlord.

    • re: “The Fed Govt should launch the building of a 1 GW nuke plant every month. Build them as military installations to keep …”

      Quite likely this could turn out to be the BIGGEST ‘white elephant’ / stranded asset mankind ever builds.

      I take it most of you ppl have NO idea what is taking place these days with respect to new energy developments? It doesn’t help that ppl like WUWT poster ristvan and the late (oops – still living!) Robert L. Park (of APS fame) have ‘poisoned the well’ on the subject of the Hydrino reaction …

      • Patronizing Adj, When someone disagrees with you, you immediately think they have NO idea about the topic.
        You must be a lot of fun at parties.
        We’ve been waiting an awful long time for hydrinos.
        Which arrives first, do you think? A) Commercial application of hydrinos, B) Commercial use of fusion, C) Earth destroyed when its aging star explodes?

        • re: “We’ve been waiting an awful long time for hydrinos.”

          Lets’ NOT be idiots; a lot of progress is being made now that reaction-rates allow utility-sized “scaling”.

          Have you seen the latest – or do you assume progress stops when YOU don’t pay attention to a particular subject?

          For instance, see: 1) https://brilliantlightpower.com/flash-boiling-powered-by-the-suncell/ and
          2) https://brilliantlightpower.com/time-lapsed-two-hour-duration-steam-production-run-powered-by-the-suncell/

          Are you at all familiar with how gas cromatagraphy works?
          \GAS CHROMATOGRAPHIC ISOLATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF HYDRINO GAS PRODUCED BY THE SUNCELL®
          https://www.reddit.com/r/BrilliantLightPower/comments/aw8r7i/gas_chromatographic_isolation_and_identification/

          As I said above: Let’s NOT be idiots …

          • You just can’t help being patronizing. Maybe some day, when you grow up, you’ll do better. It’s officially a race between that, the commercialization of hydrinos, and the end of life as we know it… with the apocalypse currently in the lead!

          • Matthew Schilling re: “You just can’t help being patronizing. Maybe some day, when you …”

            Advisory word (to all) is: Get off that ‘high horse’ and look at the experimental data available TODAY.

            Everything else (from peanut galleries the world over) is conjecture and guesswork; The practical demonstrations to date indicate, work to confirm, the underlying theories proposed by Mills.

          • It’s part of the scammers basic tool kit.
            If you can’t refute your critics, act like an a-hole and try to drive them away.
            Got to get them to leave before they upset the marks.

          • MarkW re: “It’s part of the scammers basic tool kit.
            If you can’t refute your critics, act like an a-hole and try to drive them away.
            Got to get them to leave before they upset the marks.

            MarkW, you’ve become real idiot … but, you might can possibly still be saved, IDK, of course, that’s not up to me.

          • If only 30 seconds or less was all that was needed from his devices. But I think they have a problem with things, umm, what’s it called? Oh that’s right – melting!
            Don’t get me wrong, I think Randall Mills might receive a Nobel Prize in my lifetime. But that doesn’t automatically mean he’s going to have a commercial product any time soon (as in the lifetime of a sequoia).
            But, feel free to keep calling everyone else idiots and stupid – it’s a free country. Like I said, I’m sure you’re lots of fun at parties!

      • Telling the truth has become “poisoning the well”.
        So sad when a good scam comes off the rails.

        • MarkW re: “Telling the truth has become “poisoning the well”. So sad when a good scam comes off the rails.”

          Advice as penned earlier: Let’s NOT be idiots; I take it you are as uninformed as ever on this subject? MarkW, you seem to have a ‘head on your shoulders’, use it.

          “Hydrogen to Hydrino reaction-based SunCell(tm) lecture given at Fresno State”
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dCzVUnnL00

          You wanna see a REAL scam, MarkW? LOOK UP the “Earth Engine” as I addressed WUWT poster “Sue” about.

  28. None of the politicians who espouse this know anything about science or engineering. They don’t care about the reality. They are pandering to their constituency. The calculations showing the foolishness of decarbonizing the world economy have been around for a long time

  29. Time to think outside the box. Nuclear Power Plants? Wind Generators? Give me a break. Right idea; wrong approach. Here’s what we know:

    “… if I add up the work accomplished by non-human energy—by fossil fuels and machines and by electricity from various sources and electric motors—I find that, on a per-capita average, that quantity is 100 times my annual work output. For every unit of work I do, the motors and machines that surround me do 100 units.” https://www.darrinqualman.com/energy-slaves/ Aug, 2018

    See where I’m going with this? Forget energy slaves. The Earth is dying, people! We must have real, flesh and blood slaves. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

    Haven’t worked out all the details and no doubt there will be issues to deal with like repealling the 16th Amendment. This is what I have so far: All elected officials get slaves and me because I thought of it. Perhaps similar to the military where a general has thousands of “slaves” who must do as he orders.

    No impossible construction schedule, resource extraction, fossil fuel expenditure, no CO2. Think Egypt and the pharaohs. It worked once, it can work again.

  30. An interesting approach that the author takes, but I think I misses at least one important aspect: were using a lot of the fossile fuel in processes that are very inefficient. Urban mobility will en large not be based on cars and for sure not be based on combustion engines anymore. Not sure what the share of individual mobility in the overall scale is (5 or 10%?) But this will have an impact on the “increase” of the demand.

    In general the author assumes that or energy consumption patterns won’t change, but it seem quite naive that this will actually be the case. Beyond mobility, buildings, the way we conduct business, or food supply, city and regional planning, all that will change. And one oft the many goals behind these changes will be to reduce our impact on all natural resources…

    • Don’t forget all of the people switching to Electricity to operate Heat pumps (either air or ground source), Hot water heaters, and stoves with the banning of NG for these necessary items. My annual use of electricity doubled when I switched to a Heat pump. And I have a NG furnace as the backup/air handler. With NO FOSSIL I will have NO heat when it gets below 20 degrees F unless I have a electric resistance heat assist. Each one of the therms necessary to heat my house will now cost THREE times as much [average efficiency of the heat pump for 20 to 60 degrees air temperature] that means THREE times as much electrical load from every other person heating their home with a heat pump using air source. Looking at my bill that basically doubles the electrical load. That means the 4 Terawatts goes op to about 5 terawatts for just home heat alone – until there is no heat loss in any home with a heat pump. That means about 100 million homes need new insulation – and probably the expensive sprayed in foam and all of the health concerns that is going to create.

      • You’ll also be charging your electric car. You can do that overnight when other electrical use is low and get a price break from your smart meter. Uh, what time of day is that 20 degrees F?

        • If everyone starts charging their cars over night, that over night price break is going to disappear real fast. It might even turn into a time of surcharge if the new demand is high enough.

        • “Uh, what time of day is that 20 degrees F?” Last winter (not typical) we had almost a week where it was below 20 Degrees F every night and did not go above 22 Degrees F (needed to switch off of “Emergency” heat) each day. That meant I was using NG 24/7. My Electric bill for January was lower than April or May. My gas bill was over $250. And my home meets Heat Pump insulation requirements.

    • People have been predicting the death of cars in cities for decades. Yet the ignorant masses keep ignoring the academics have to say and live their lives the way that is most convenient for them.

  31. Actually it is worse than that. Energy demand will keep growing, so the plants need to be built to feed that demand also.

  32. 1-2 nukes per day. Per day! Anybody who has ever been involved in a major infrastructure construction project at any level, knows that we would be realistically talking about 2 to 3 nukes every 5 years nationally. Really.

  33. Won’t the wind speeds be slowed or the wind patterns be changed by all these windmills? If a hurricane suddenly appears in your backyard where none has ever appeared before could you sue the windmills? Is there such a thing as “wind rights”? Could the windmill “behind” another windmill sue the first windmill for theft? So many questions!

  34. Another MAJOR problem and endeavor is the electrification of the 140,000 miles Railroad system?
    Would be essentially impossible to run the railroad on batteries.

    The U.S. rail network is comprised of nearly 140,000 miles of track and over 100,000 bridges.
    Rail | ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card

    https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org › cat-item › rail

  35. If one is really serious about significantly reducing the burning of fossil fuels, then replacing aging fossil fuel power plants with nuclear power plants is the only viable alternative. The world has been spending quite a bit on wind and solar and they just are not doing the job. However we must all understand that there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and there is plenty of scientific rationale that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. It is all a matter of science. There are many good reasons to be conserving on the use of fossil fuels but climate change is not one of them.

  36. When you do the math, you realize that to achieve Net Zero CO2 from all human activities by 2020 [The Green New Deal] will cost more than double the total Global GDP. Who is going to pay for that? How far will the world go down that road before they realize that it is IMPOSSIBLE?
    The USA alone would need 500,000 2 MW Wind turbines and an equivalent amount of Solar panels just to provide Todays electrical needs. To achieve Net Zero means five to ten times that number.
    Then you need to electrify 140,000 MILES of railroad track and probably double the rail capacity to take the added freight from the trucking freight.
    How much trucking, mining, manufacturing, excavation, MANPOWER does it take to build 16 Million Wind turbines a year for the USA and an equivalent amount of solar systems. AND a storage capacity to provide every major city with just one weeks’ worth of backup battery power?
    Now multiply all those numbers by Five for the rest of the world. Only one real factual answer – It is impossible.
    By the way I BELIEVE the earth is getting warmer, at least 1 degree C.
    I also believe Renewables are NOT the answer.

  37. Have I missed a point here? If we use 12000 mtoe per year then the amount used per day is 12000/365. That is a lot more than the 1mtoe/dsy used in the article.

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