Michael Liebreich, founder and senior contributor to BloombergNEF, takes a hard look at the decisions that we need to make about how we plan to transition our energy systems to eliminate emissions over the next 11 years and conducts what might be called a “come to Jesus” discussion with his readers, demanding that they review the data and get real about nuclear power.
First Liebreich provides some very compelling evidence that it would be utterly unrealistic to believe that wind and solar alone could grow at rates that are multiples of their historic rates in order to provide enough zero-carbon power to decarbonize the economy in the near term, even with their low prices.
Among the easiest, cheapest and most impactful actions nations can take to ensure their decarbonization pathway remain headed in the right direction—the “no brainer” decisions upon which any number of countries are already failing—would be to set an “overwhelming priority is to keep existing nuclear plants open.”
Liebreich takes exception when it comes to the question of building new traditional nuclear power plants, and makes the case that the Gen III generation of plant designs won’t cut it on based upon economic grounds—given the failure of the industry to deliver Gen III projects on time or on budget. However, he is willing to be convinced that Gen IV nuclear, once developed, might be what we need assuming we can get these designs out within a reasonable time frame—something yet to be determined. But, given the likelihood that we will miss our targets, Liebreich calls for getting “serious about developing SMRs and researching the generation of nuclear technologies that might even follow them.”
Read Michael Leibreich’s “get real” talk in “Liebreich: We need to talk about nuclear power,” published at BNEF.