Greenpeace's 'Energy Revolution' Study is Flawed

| by Nuclear Energy Institute
By David Bradish
From NEI Nuclear Notes

Nuclear Green and Pro-Nuclear Democrats took a critical eye to Greenpeace's latest study called Energy [R]evolution and weren't impressed. Greenpeace's study leaves nuclear plants off the table as a solution in reducing CO2 emissions (surprise, surprise) while renewables and efficiency are claimed to be able to handle it all. Here's Nuclear Green's part one on Greenpeace's study:

The cutesy feature of the report title, the rather uncreative play on the words revolution and evolution suggests the report's fundamental dilemma: the difficulty of charting a path to a renewables energy future given the serious limitations of renewable energy sources.


Clean thus appears to be disassociated from "science based emissions reductions", because the shutdown of nuclear is viewed as being in the interest of being "clean." Furthermore, the notion that over 50% of American nuclear plants would be shut down for the sake of "the clean", in the face of an emissions based climate crisis is highly unrealistic. We must ask then if the [r]evolution plan is a realistic route to a low climate risk future, or a green fantasy wish list for the United States?

Of course the study is a green fantasy wish list. If it was a real study, it would look similar to EPRI's PRISM scenario (pdf), or Princeton's Wedge theory, or the Global Energy Technology Strategy Program (pdf) which was developed by "a core group of scientists." Most independent analyses (including the ones above) show that any credible initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will require additional nuclear generating capacity. Here's Pro-Nuclear Democrats' thoughts:

Seriously folks, the Greenpeace stance is not even a rational middle ground when it comes to nuclear energy. How can anyone, any government, take Greenpeace seriously when it vigorously attacks nuclear energy for the sole purpose of defending its past credibility? Does anyone seriously believe that people such as Patrick Moore and James Lovelock have sacrificed their personal integrity to become sellouts by changing their minds about nuclear?

Jason goes on to explain how the lack of discussion of energy terms in the study like capacity factors, baseload, intermittent, and emission-free paints a serious mis-perception of the capabilities of Greenpeace's plan. Here's Jason's example of what it means to be intermittent:

Photovoltaics and wind energy fit this definition [intermittent] precisely and would provide the majority of the Greenpeace future energy plan. Banking a future energy system on technology that is supposed to work in conjunction with a smart grid is betting the future on an uncertain theory. Before any widespread system would be implemented, it ought to be tested by a computer simulation. For that to work would require a lot of data and sophisticated programming and then it still might not get it right.


This confusion of terms and definitions will undoubtedly continue. As long as we cannot agree to use the same terms, formulas, and laws of physics, the energy debate will be going nowhere fast. The omissions made by the Greenpeace document are not out of neglect but motivated by political manipulation and aims to prey upon the energy illiterate. We can only hope those who will be reading the Greenpeace fluff will do a little research checking on the Internet and find another opinion fact based evaluation.

And to wrap-up this post, here's a nugget from Nuclear Green's part two that looks at what "dirty" means in terms of labeling energy sources:

Calling nuclear power dirty is not accurate, but is dramatic, and theatrical. The use of the term dirty with respect to nuclear is not about science, it is about removing questions concerning nuclear risk from the realm of rational discourse, and attempting to resolve questions about nuclear safety on an emotional rather than a rational level.

I would say Nuclear Green's nugget pretty much sums up the whole Greenpeace study: emotional not rational. Well done guys!

See the original article.