Nuclear Power Can Save the World

The New York Times
Nuclear Power Plant James Alexander Michie

A nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France. Credit Julien Warnand/EPA, via Shutterstock

It is necessary to establish that the expansion of technology is the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the economy. In fact, nuclear power could save the world.

It should be noted that today’s young people, rightly, demand real solutions to climate change, the question is not what to do, eliminate fossil fuels by 2050, but how. Beyond decarbonizing today’s grid, clean electricity must be used to replace fossil fuels in transportation, industry, and heating.

It is necessary to emphasize that the growing energy needs of the poorest countries must be met and the network extended to one billion people who now lack electricity. Even so, this would not be enough, since more electricity will be needed to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by the middle of the century.

The reality

Surrounding this issue are several questions, one of which is: Where will this giant amount of carbon-free energy come from? And the popular response is only renewable, however, it has been said that this is a fantasy.

An important fact to mention is that both wind and solar energy are becoming cheaper. However, the reality is that they are not available 24 hours a day. Nowadays, renewable energies only work with the support of fossil fuels.

On the other hand, Germany, which was totally dedicated to renewable energies, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions. In fact, according to calculations at the rate of Germany to add clean energy in relation to the gross domestic product, the world would take more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country was not also removing the nuclear plants before.

Even so, a few fortunate countries with abundant hydroelectric power, such as Norway and New Zealand, have decarbonized their power grids, but their success cannot be extended to other places. Being that the best hydroelectric sites in the world are already dammed.

Likewise, there are proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. Decarbonized their networks decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. In this way, as expected, they remain among the most pleasant places in the world to live and enjoy electricity much cheaper than that of Germany.

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Source: Joshua S. Goldstein, Staffan A. Qvist and Steven Pinker | The New York Times

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