Monday, October 29, 2007

Nuclear Power to Explode in India, but China Prefers Coal

An unfortunate headline from Wired.

To curb greenhouse gas emissions, India is poised to dramatically increase its reliance on nuclear energy -- but there'll be no overall benefit to the planet if China's coal binge continues.

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency forecasts India will increase nuclear production eight-fold by 2030 to account for 26 percent of its power grid.

However, China plans to use nuclear power for only 4 percent of electricity generation by 2030. Globally, the IAEA estimates there'll be drop an overall drop in nuclear energy from around 15 percent in 2006, down to 13 percent in 2030.

"The world should be encouraging China to get out of coal into non-greenhouse gas emitting energy production," said Alan McDonald, a nuclear-energy analyst with the IAEA.

Coal is a dirty, carbon-dioxide spewing energy source, but like gasoline, it is cheap, scalable and reliable. The Pew Center for Climate Change estimates that coal contributes 20 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted on earth.

Among the green alternatives to coal, nuclear is the only technology with proven capacity. Worldwide, nuclear power generates 370 gigawatts of energy; estimates of global wind capacity are around 74 GW and solar-power capacity at only 1.7 GW....MORE

Quoted wind capacity should be mentally halved. Nukes run at 90-100% of nameplate capacity; coal, 70 to 90%; wind, 33-40%.