Renewables Outrunning Fossil Fuels and Nuclear

Together, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind energy sources provided 57.26% of new U.S. electrical generating capacity in 2019. These renewable resources increased much more than the combination of coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear power.

A report issued in March 2020 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) predicts that renewables will continue this dramatic increase over the next three years and will account for more than a quarter of the total US energy capacity. Nuclear and oil will continue declining, though natural gas will increase its share slightly. The forecast suggests that renewable technologies will help slow the pace of climate change.

On the other hand, advocates of nuclear power point out that the capacity for generating energy is not the same as the actual generation of electricity. The distinction is important because not all generating plants constantly run at full capacity — and that is especially the case with wind turbines, which (whatever their capacity) actually can produce only while the wind is blowing. At present, wind and nuclear are about equal in the amount of energy they generate in the United States, for nuclear and natural gas plants can produce almost all the time.

Regions differ in their energy sources, even in the same country. Much of the northeastern states still use coal, whereas California gets 31 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and only about three percent from coal.

Canada’s renewable energy comes largely from hydro-electricity, about half of it being produced in Quebec. Although Canada is a world leader in generating hydro power, its prospects for rapidly increasing the overall proportion of renewables is limited by its commitment to the ongoing production of oil for export. There is also substantial interest in Canada for creating a number of small modular nuclear reactors, though even if such a plan were adopted, these could not be built for several years, whereas renewables are continuing their rapid expansion.

Sources: Smart Energy International, Mar 13 2020. ; Jeremy Whitlock; Natural Resources Canada, “Oil Supply and Demand,” “$”:­energy-sources-distribution/clean-fossil-fuels/crude-oil/oil-supply-demand/18086

Coronavirus modelling

We can now read the Imperial College report on COVID-19 that led to the extreme measures we’ve seen in the US the second week in March. Read on; it’s terrifying.

The Imperial College team plugged infection and death rates from China, Korea, and Italy into epidemic modeling software and ran a simulation: what happens if the US does absolutely nothing — if we treat COVID-19 like the flu, go about our business, and let the virus take its course?

Sources: Imperial College London, via Jeremy C. Young on Twitter.

Peace Magazine April-June 2020

Peace Magazine April-June 2020, page 2. Some rights reserved.

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