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Nuclear power may have saved 1.8 million lives otherwise lost to fossil fuels, may save up to 7 million more. | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network

Nuclear power may have saved 1.8 million lives otherwise lost to fossil fuels, may save up to 7 million more. | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network | GlobalPower | Scoop.it
Nuclear power is often promoted as a low-carbon source that mitigates fossil fuel emissions and the resulting health damage and deaths caused by air pollution. But ...

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NASA report: Nuclear Power Prevents More Deaths Than It Causes

NASA report: Nuclear Power Prevents More Deaths Than It Causes | GlobalPower | Scoop.it

Using nuclear power in place of fossil-fuel energy sources, such as coal, has prevented some 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths globally and could save millions of more lives in coming decades, concludes a study. The researchers also find that nuclear energy prevents emissions of huge quantities of greenhouse gases. These estimates help make the case that policymakers should continue to rely on and expand nuclear power in place of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, the authors say (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es3051197).

 

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, critics of nuclear power have questioned how heavily the world should rely on the energy source, due to possible risks it poses to the environment and human health.

 

“I was very disturbed by all the negative and in many cases unfounded hysteria regarding nuclear power after the Fukushima accident,” says report coauthor Pushker A. Kharecha, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York.

 

Working with Goddard’s James E. Hansen, Kharecha set out to explore the benefits of nuclear power. The pair specifically wanted to look at nuclear power’s advantages over fossil fuels in terms of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Kharecha was surprised to find no broad studies on preventable deaths that could be attributed to nuclear power’s pollution savings. But he did find data from a 2007 study on the average number of deaths per unit of energy generated with fossil fuels and nuclear power (Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61253-7). These estimates include deaths related to all aspects of each energy source from mining the necessary natural resources to power generation. For example, the data took into account chronic bronchitis among coal miners and air pollution-related conditions among the public, including lung cancer.

 

The NASA researchers combined this information with historical energy generation data to estimate how many deaths would have been caused if fossil-fuel burning was used instead of nuclear power generation from 1971 to 2009. They similarly estimated that the use of nuclear power over that time caused 5,000 or so deaths, such as cancer deaths from radiation fallout and worker accidents. Comparing those two estimates, Kharecha and Hansen came up with the 1.8 million figure.

 

They next estimated the total number of deaths that could be prevented through nuclear power over the next four decades using available estimates of future nuclear use. Replacing all forecasted nuclear power use until 2050 with natural gas would cause an additional 420,000 deaths, whereas swapping it with coal, which produces significantly more pollution than gas, would mean about 7 million additional deaths. The study focused strictly on deaths, not long-term health issues that might shorten lives, and the authors did not attempt to estimate potential deaths tied to climate change.

 

Finally the pair compared carbon emissions from nuclear power to fossil fuel sources. They calculated that if coal or natural gas power had replaced nuclear energy from 1971 to 2009, the equivalent of an additional 64 gigatons of carbon would have reached the atmosphere. Looking forward, switching out nuclear for coal or natural gas power would lead to the release of 80 to 240 gigatons of additional carbon by 2050.


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The Obama Administration's second term carbon and clean energy ...

The Obama Administration's second term carbon and clean energy ... | GlobalPower | Scoop.it
He also vowed to move forward on his own if Congress does not act, and proposed new initiatives to support state energy efficiency efforts with federal funding and strengthen renewable energy targets.

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Why China is doubling down on nuclear power, renewables, and gas - Fortune Features

Why China is doubling down on nuclear power, renewables, and gas - Fortune Features | GlobalPower | Scoop.it
Andrew Brandler, the CEO of CLP Group, Hong Kong's biggest utility, talks about how Asia plans to handle its soaring energy demands.

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Electric Car's curator insight, April 8, 2013 8:09 PM

FORTUNE -- China Light and Power's roots are more than a hundred years deep in Hong Kong.

 

That makes CLP a player in the greatest challenge of our time: How to balance Asia's soaring energy demands with the planet's urgent need to wean itself from fossil fuels.

 

Andrew Brandler, CEO of the CLP Group since 2000, has degrees from Cambridge University and Harvard Business School, and he's co-chair of the energy and climate group within the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

 

He'll be leaving CLP's corner office later this year to join Sir Elly Kadoorie & Sons Limited, the private company of the Kadoorie Family, CLP's largest shareholder. This week he sat down with Fortune's David Whitford in Hong Kong.

 

Across the whole group, it's mostly fossil fuels -- about 60% coal and 15% gas -- plus 20% renewables and 5% nuclear. And you're not building any more coal plants?

 

The government in 2010 came out with a public consultation about the future energy needs for the whole of Hong Kong that postulated by 2020 nuclear being 50% of the electricity supply, gas 40%, and coal 10%.

 

We were an investor in China's first commercial nuclear power station at Daya Bay, which supplies about 25% of Hong Kong's electricity.

If Hong Kong needs more nuclear, we're keen to invest in that.

If you're doing a one-off project, like in the United States, with all the regulatory issues and design issues, the costs just balloon.

 

But if you can spread all those upfront costs over a whole program, it's not so burdensome. And if you can get the supply chain working -- which China is very good at -- you can bring those costs down dramatically.

Without nuclear it's hard to see how the world will continue to meet energy demand growth without catastrophic risk to the climate.

 

Nuclear is the only technology that exists today that can provide base-load power at a reasonable cost -- if you get the program right -- with zero carbon emissions.

 

China has by far the most aggressive nuclear buildout underway in the world today, with 28 new plants planned or already under construction.

We're a big company -- $20 billion market cap -- and we are 20,000 megawatts across the region. But every quarter China builds another CLP.

 

And something like 60,000 megawatts is coming from coal.

 

It's very hard to say to voters, "Look, I have to make you poorer now because we're going to have to slow down growth or increase costs of energy production which will have the consequence of slowing down growth. But don't worry, it's going to benefit your children or your grandchildren by the year 2050."

 

What we say essentially is that if everybody followed our strategy -- if the whole industry did it -- then there's some chance by 2050 that the electricity supply industry in this part of the world is largely decarbonized, and on a trajectory to hit what the UNFCC [ United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ] has said is what you need to in order to avoid massive climate change.

 

Not carbon-free, but what we're saying is we want to get our portfolio to a carbon intensity of 0.2 kilograms per kilowatt hour.

 

One thing we could say is we're going to stop growing, stop investing, in which case someone in a white suit comes into my office, puts my arms in a straightjacket, marches me out, and someone else takes over.

 

We can make more investments in nuclear, more investments in renewable energy, more investments in gas-fired generation.

 

CLP cannot be on a trajectory of continuing to increase its carbon emissions without regard for the consequences and hope to continue to be in business.

 

That does not mean stopping all investments that have carbon emissions, that's unrealistic. But it's about de-risking the portfolio slowly over time so that we can still grow the business and earn returns for our shareholders, risk-adjusted for carbon, while preserving our broader franchise.

 

I think there needs to be a technology breakthrough -- a black swan that no one has thought about that comes along and solves the world's energy problems.

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Connect! Transform the Future - A Portfolio of Energy Resources

Connect! Transform the Future - A Portfolio of Energy Resources | GlobalPower | Scoop.it
Find educator resources about energy sources and resources, energy efficiency, and energy conservation.

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Beth Dichter's curator insight, March 29, 2013 9:26 PM

National Geographic has a new site that provides excellent resources on energy for students in Grades 4 - 12. Along with energy activities for students in Grades 4 - 8 and Grades 9 - 12 the site also provides an interactive map to explore energy data, a student friendly encyclopedia on common energy topics, energy videos, energy literacy principles, a photo gallery, teacher resources, and a link to a game "Plan it Green: The Big Switch" that allows "that allows players to design and create their own energy-efficient city of the future!"

David McPherson's curator insight, March 24, 2014 4:21 AM

Great way to educate young minds about the issues facing society with regards to resource usage.

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Solar Energy Seems To Make Environmentalists Mad - Forbes

Solar Energy Seems To Make Environmentalists Mad - Forbes | GlobalPower | Scoop.it
Solar Energy Seems To Make Environmentalists Mad
Forbes
I'm really not sure what it is but something seems to send environmentalists mad when they consider the supplies of things like solar panels and other equipment for renewable energy.
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