[Editor’s note: On Dec. 29, former NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen wrote a piece on advancing nuclear energy to help address climate change and air pollution. The article below, by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, provides a response to Hansen’s comments.]
Comment 1 by Dr. James Hansen:
The urgency of expanding clean energy implies that nuclear power, presently the largest source of carbon-free energy and historically the clean-energy source of fastest scale-up, likely must play an important role in meeting needs for dispatchable electric power, carbon-neutral fuels and fresh water.
Nuclear is an opportunity cost relative to clean, renewable wind, water and solar energy because of
a. the significant lag time between planning and operation of a nuclear plant relative to a wind, solar, or geothermal plant;
b. higher carbon emissions of nuclear per unit energy; and
c. nuclear weapons proliferation risks, meltdown risks, waste disposal risks, and uranium mining risks. As such, the only basis for nuclear growth is if 100% wind, water and solar is not possible. However, because the technical feasibility of 100% wind, water and solar across 139 countries and 50 states has been shown to be possible, evidence suggests at this time that a solution can be obtained without nuclear.
◇ Mark Jacobson: Barriers to 100% Clean Energy are Social and Political, Not Technical or Economic