Energy Efficiency Scenarios Until Now

Energy Efficiency Scenarios Until Now

US citizens are responsible for 19 percent of the world’s carbon emissions – being just 5% of the world’s population. China surpassed the US as the top global carbon emitter in 2006. But coal and oil and gas are outdated. So, all the renewable technology out there is the new black.

Between 1994 and 2009, subsidies for renewables represented only $370 million (according to DBL). But between 1947 to 1999, nuclear power had subsidies of $3.5 billion a year. While coal receives at least $3.2 billion a year, in our times (according to a 2011 study), the oil and gas industry has been averaging $4.86 billion dollars (in today’s currency), since 1918 (according to a 2011 study).

NUCLEAR POWER OUTDATED

In the last 10 years, the estimated price for a new nuclear reactor has jumped through the roof – to more than $12 billion. Wall Street doesn’t agree to finance a nuclear project without the state signing the loan – so if the project fails, nobody wins. In 2012, the Southern Company and its partners were building two new reactors (at the Vogtle nuclear plant, Georgia). But there is no way that they will be able to finance more than other two or three plants.

While in 2008, utilities applied for licenses to build some 25 new reactors, older ones are shutting down. And all because of the huge costs on safety upgrades, cheaper energy sources (wind or natural gas), while Exelon (the largest nuclear plant in the country) is saying that it may close three plants in Illinois, in 2019 – which power some 5.5 million homes.

WIND AND SOLAR

Unlike new reactors, the cost of solar and wind has plummeted. Solar panel prices dropped more than 75 percent since 2008, and the cost of generating electricity from wind turbines declined more than 40 percent between 2009 and 2012. Solar installations in the US amounted to 5.1 gigawatts in 2012, boosting to 13 gigawatts, nation-wide — enough to power nearly 2.2 million typical American homes. By the end of December 2012, there were enough wind turbines across the country to power 15.5 million homes.

“Meeting demand in the face of variability and uncertainty is old hat for grid operators. They’re already doing it with wind and solar here in the United States and in Europe,” said Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Besides, spreading wind and solar installations over a large enough area would help address the intermittency issue. The wind is always blowing somewhere, and if we increased the percentage of wind and solar to 30 percent — which we should be able to do within the next 15 years — the system’s flexibility to manage supply and demand, along with a updated grid, should be able to integrate that power,” he added.

“If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist

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