The case for 100 percent renewables rested on a lie. Here's what it teaches us about energy and the environment

The case for 100 percent renewables rested on a lie. Here's what it teaches us about energy and the environment

A study published earlier this week shows that the proposal to power the US on wind, water and solar rests on a single, gigantic lie — and an opportunity for policymakers, informed citizens and journalists to understand how the energy density of fuels largely determines their human and environmental impact. 

Nowhere is the relationship between energy density and environmental impact more clear than in the production of toxic waste.

While we hear a lot about nuclear, a new EP investigation has discovered that solar panels produces 300 times more toxic waste than nuclear plants, and no nation outside of Europe has a plan to prevent them from contaminating water supplies in Asia and Africa.  

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Are we headed for a solar waste crisis?

Are we headed for a solar waste crisis?

How big of a problem is solar waste?

Environmental Progress investigated the problem to see how the problem compared to the much more high-profile issue of nuclear waste. 

We found:

  • Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants.

  • If solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (52 meters), while the solar waste would reach the height of two Mt. Everests (16 km). 

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Nope, there’s no perinatal mortality surge from Fukushima fallout

Nope, there’s no perinatal mortality surge from Fukushima fallout

Biostatistician Hagen Scherb, a prominent anti-nuclear researcher at Germany’s prestigious Helmholtz Institute, specializes in statistical analyses that link Chernobyl radiation to vast increases of disease and death in infants and fetuses all over Europe. Now he’s weighing in on the Fukushima accident.

Health threats to children in Fukushima have been a major theme of alarmist claims since the accident. And like the thyroid-cancer scare, they have been thoroughly debunked. Scherb’s new claim is no different.

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Dark Money Behind Food & Water Watch Ad Blitz Attacking Clean Energy in New York

Dark Money Behind Food & Water Watch Ad Blitz Attacking Clean Energy in New York

A $14 million-a-year anti-nuclear outfit called Food and Water Watch refuses to say who is funding its last minute TV ad blitz aimed at killing New York's largest source of clean energy in the state legislature.

The group has expanded its efforts with advertising in New York — one of the most expensive media markets in the country — with the apparent goal of killing the historic legislation passed last year by the New York Public Service Commission, which recognized the importance of nuclear as a source of clean reliable power last year. 

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Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos can save America's largest source of clean power. Here's how.

Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos can save America's largest source of clean power. Here's how.

Amazon's commitment to renewables is at risk of becoming more than mere greenwashing: it could kill 90 percent of Ohio's clean power, destroy 1,400 high-paying jobs, and make the state the most-polluted in the nation.

Now, Ohio community leaders, climate scientists including James Hansen, environmentalists including Whole Earth Catalog Stewart Brand, and prominent high-tech leaders are urging Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, to change Amazon's definition of renewables to include nuclear, and save Ohio's nuclear plants.

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Big Oil is trying to kill clean energy in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Here's who will pay the price.

Big Oil is trying to kill clean energy in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Here's who will pay the price.

Environmental Progress has discovered that American Petroleum Institute — Big Oil — is spending millions to kill clean energy in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

We gave the information to the Wall Street Journal, which published our exposé today.

If the fossil energy lobby wins, the most vulnerable people — children, the elderly, and the ill — will pay the heaviest price.

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New Study Finds Surprising Health Benefits of Nuclear Power

New Study Finds Surprising Health Benefits of Nuclear Power

Experts have long recognized the negative impact of fossil fuel air pollution on public health, and the relative safety of nuclear power. But prior studies have been limited in their ability to directly measure health trade-offs from moving from nuclear to fossil fuels. 

Now, a new study in Nature Energy by a young economist at Carnegie Mellon University, finds that the temporary closure of two nuclear plants in the early 1980s led directly to lower birth weights — a key indicator of poor health outcomes later in life.

The study could play an important role in catalyzing action to keep nuclear plants on-line.

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Why Britain Can Save Nuclear — For Itself, and for the World

Why Britain Can Save Nuclear — For Itself, and for the World

Britain has been one of the shining hopes for a nuclear renaissance. Committed to strong climate action, and concerned over the security of its energy supplies, the island nation has plans to build 12 reactors.

But now, the bankruptcy of Westinghouse has put into question all of those plans.

In a new piece for the British newspaper, The Financial Times, I argue that the crisis brings an opportunity for the UK government to save nuclear power — not just for itself, but also for the world.

The key? Standardize a single, simple design, and build it over and over again. History shows that the experience afforded by standardization is the key to making nuclear cheap.

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Why the War on Nuclear Threatens Us All

Why the War on Nuclear Threatens Us All

In the early 1970s, Ohio started building nuclear plants to reduce air pollution from coal. But anti-nuclear activists including the Sierra Club and Ralph Nader decided they knew what was best for the people of Ohio, and blocked their construction. The result? The building of yet more coal plants, and thousands of premature deaths.

Now, 40 years later, anti-nuclear groups are trying to finish what they started.

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The Future of Nuclear

The Future of Nuclear

In 2016, pro-nuclear advocates won our first victories against the anti-nuclear Goliath, saving nuclear plants from closure around the world.

But the anti-nuclear establishment quickly struck back with a series of victories resulting in announced nuclear plant closures and cancellations.

Now, in the wake of a financial crisis resulting from construction delays and cost overruns at two U.S. nuclear plants, the American nuclear giant Westinghouse has announced it might go bankrupt.

These are dark times for pro-nuclear forces, but we are starting to see pinpoints of light. Pro-nuclear rebels are finding their courage, from California to Taiwan to Australia to Germany.  

In three weeks many of us will meet for the first time, and learn about each other’s struggles. We will find ways to help each other in ways we can’t currently imagine.

We will discover that what we are seeking is truly universal — and beautiful: a world of nature and prosperity for all

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Nuclear Industry Must Change — Or Die

Nuclear Industry Must Change — Or Die

The looming insolvency of Toshiba has set off a chain reaction of events that now threatens the existence of nuclear power in the West.

The Japanese and French governments will be compelled to act for economic reasons — their nuclear industries are too important to their economies to fail.

Even though it lacks its own nuclear industry, Britain is emerging as the strongest of the three nations because it has a significant number of planned nuclear plants that involve Japanese and French companies.

The new conservative government of Theresa May has expressed more interest in industrial policy than prior conservative governments, and has already begun talks with the Japanese government about the UK government coming in as an investor on two of its planned plants.

The question is whether anyone in the three governments will have the vision and strength to make the right choices. The right choices will be the most difficult ones because they will require standing up first to the nuclear industry and next to ideologues on the Left and the Right.

But crises bring opportunities and there are large ones for reformers within the industry and within governments to do what should have been done 40 years ago: standardize designs, reorganize and consolidate the industry, and implement a vision to scale up plants while bringing down costs.

They can take inspiration from the success of Boeing, and the courage of Sully.

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Why its Big Bet on Westinghouse Nuclear is Bankrupting Toshiba

Why its Big Bet on Westinghouse Nuclear is Bankrupting Toshiba

Toshiba, the venerable 80-year old Japanese electronics giant, appears to have gone bankrupt. Toshiba's losses stem from its construction of new nuclear plants in the United States.

Korea is winning the global competition to cheaply build new nuclear plants despite — or perhaps because of — being new to the game, and a small player compared to Russia, China, the US, France and Japan.

Korea has done so through focus: standard design, standard construction of plants, standard operation and standard regulation. Korea's nuclear plants are plug-and-play.

What does it mean for nuclear? What does it mean for the West?

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German electricity was nearly 10 times dirtier than France's in 2016

German electricity was nearly 10 times dirtier than France's in 2016

German electricity was nearly 10 times dirtier than France's in 2016, according to a new Environmental Progress analysis. 

In 2016, Germany generated 545 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity at an average rate of approximately 560 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. By contrast, France generated 530 TWh of electricity at an average rate of approximately 58 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh.

The analysis is based on hourly generation data from Franhofer ISE (Germany) and RTE (France), as of February 6, 2017. Conversion of German generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity uses emissions factors of 1150g, 900g, 369 g, and 983 g of CO2 per KWh for lignite (brown coal), hard coal, natural gas, and biomass respectively. Conversion of French generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity Uses RTE-France's emissions factors.

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NEW: California Nuclear Closures Resulted in 250% Higher Emissions from Electricity

NEW: California Nuclear Closures Resulted in 250% Higher Emissions from Electricity

California’s power sector emissions are two-and-a-half times higher today than they would have been had the state kept open and built planned nuclear plants, a new Environmental Progress (EP) analysis finds.

In the 1960s and 1970s, California’s electric utilities had planned to build a string of new reactors and new plants that were ultimately killed by anti-nuclear leaders and groups, including Governor Jerry Brown, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDC). 

Other nuclear plants were forced to close prematurely, including Rancho Seco and San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station, while Diablo Canyon is being forced to close by California's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which excludes nuclear.

Had those plants been constructed and stayed open, 73 percent of power produced in California would be from clean (very low-carbon) energy sources as opposed to just 34 percent. Of that clean power, 48 percent would have been from nuclear rather than 9 percent. 

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EXCLUSIVE: German Emissions Increase in 2016 Due to Nuclear Plant Closure

EXCLUSIVE: German Emissions Increase in 2016 Due to Nuclear Plant Closure

German emissions increased in 2016 for a second year in a row as a result of the country closing one of its nuclear plants and replacing it with coal and natural gas, a new Environmental Progress analysis and investigation finds.

Not only did new solar and wind not make up for the lost nuclear, the percentage of time during 2016 that solar and wind produced electricity declined dramatically. 

Germany added a whopping 10 percent more wind turbines and 2.5 percent more solar panels between 2015 and 2016, but generated less than one percent more electricity from wind and generated one percent less electricity from solar.

As such, 2016 is a dramatic illustration of the inherent limits to sources of electricity that are precisely as reliable as the weather.

Emissions would have declined had it not closed a nuclear plant and replaced it with coal and natural gas. 

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BREAKING: Closure of Indian Point Would Spike Power Emissions 29%, Reversing 14 years of Declines

BREAKING: Closure of Indian Point Would Spike Power Emissions 29%, Reversing 14 years of Declines

If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeeds in his effort to close Indian Point nuclear power plant, carbon emissions will spike and the state will become more dependent on fossil fuels than it has been since 2000, a new Environmental Progress (EP) analysis finds. EP finds:

  • New York's dependence on fossil fuels will rise from 44 percent to 56 percent of its electricity mix;
  • New York will lose 23 percent of its clean power;
  • Power sector carbon emissions will skyrocket 29 percent, from 31 to 40 million metric tons;
  • Twice as many emissions will be added as are required to be reduced under EPA's Clean Power Plan.
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Working for Natural Gas Interests, Former Cuomo Aides Lobbied to Kill Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Working for Natural Gas Interests, Former Cuomo Aides  Lobbied to Kill Indian Point Nuclear Plant

The New York natural gas promotor under federal prosecution for bribes to Governor Andrew Cuomo's top aide pushed to close Indian Point nuclear plant, according to the U.S. Attorney's September 22, 2016 indictment.

"Based on my review of publicly available documents and my interviews of witnesses," wrote the US attorney, "including employees of [Competitive Power Ventures], the importance of the [CPV Valley Energy Center] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down."

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